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RELEASES: Hochul announces opening of legal marijuana drug store in Schenectady, proposes law to crackdown on illegal drug dealers. Reaction from Medical Cannabis group included.
For Immediate Release: 3/23/2023


Justice-Involved Individual to Open Schenectady Retail Dispensary on April 1

Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Will Further the State's Equity and Justice-Centered New York State Seeding Opportunity Initiatives

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the opening of the first Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary location in Schenectady - the first to open in the Capital Region. The opening of the store continues to advance New York State's Seeding Opportunity Initiative and the State's goals of equity in cannabis licensing, which prioritizes providing CAURD licenses to justice-involved individuals. Justice-involved individuals are people with a cannabis conviction or a close relative of someone with one, and non-profits that support them.

"We're building an equitable adult-use cannabis market that provides a safer product for New Yorkers, while offsetting the harms caused by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition," Governor Hochul said. "With this latest dispensary opening - the first in the Capital Region - we continue to advance our nation-leading industry and will continue to work towards achieving the aggressive goals embodied in the New York Cannabis Law."

The retail dispensary called "Upstate Canna Co." - located at 1613 Union St. Schenectady, NY 12309 - will be owned and operated by experienced local entrepreneur Don Andrews and will open on April 1 at 11:00 A.M. and close at 9:00 P.M. Regular operating hours will be Monday-Friday 9:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M., Saturday 11:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M. and Sunday 11:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. For 10 years, Mr. Andrews has owned and operated retail storefronts specializing in smoking, vaping, cannabinoid hemp (e.g. CBD products) and accessories in Schenectady and Scotia.

Owner of Upstate Canna Co. Don Andrews said, "I have been a store owner and operator in Schenectady County for the past ten years. I am honored to be the first dispensary in the Capital Region to open their doors to the public and provide high quality, laboratory tested New York produced adult-use cannabis products. Thank you to the OCM and Governor Hochul for rolling out this program -- they have done an outstanding job and have been great to work with. We are very excited to be a part of the foundation of the growing cannabis community and industry in New York State.

Chairwoman of the Cannabis Control Board Tremaine Wright said, "Opening the first dispensary in the Capital Region is a testament to our continued commitment to the growth of the Adult-Use Market here in New York. It is also an opportunity for this new retail store to contribute positively towards economic growth in Schenectady by creating jobs and generating revenue. We are confident that this dispensary will be a great asset to the community and we look forward to seeing its impact.

Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management Chris Alexander said, "We are excited to be adding another dedicated retailer to the Adult-Use Market who is committed to providing quality products and services to all who choose to partake in the industry. With this new first addition to the Capital Region, we are thrilled that more people will have access to safe and reliable cannabis products in New York State.

The CAURD license is a central pillar of the New York State Seeding Opportunity Initiative. Through the Initiative, New York's first legal adult-use retail dispensaries will be operated by those most impacted by the enforcement of the prohibition of cannabis or non-profit organizations whose services include support for the formerly incarcerated. These dispensaries are making legal adult-use sales with cannabis products grown by New York Farmers.

To be eligible, applicants must either have a cannabis conviction themselves, or be the close family relative of someone who does, and own or have owned a business that had a net profit for at least two years. Non-profits are eligible for CAURD licenses if they have a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals (including creating vocational opportunities for them), have at least one justice involved board member, at least five full time employees and have operated a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two years.


For Immediate Release: 3/22/2023


Legislation Will Allow State to Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Storefront Dispensaries as Quickly as Possible; Stores Could Be Fined More Than $10,000 Per Day for Unlawful Activities

Will Strengthen Ongoing Enforcement Efforts by Giving New Enforcement Powers to the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance

Law Would Maintain New York's Nation-Leading Cannabis Equity Provisions While Ensuring a Heavily Regulated Cannabis Industry That Protects Consumers and Legal Sales

Governor Kathy Hochul today proposed new legislation to increase civil and tax penalties for the unlicensed and illicit sale of cannabis in New York. The legislation would also provide additional enforcement power to the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce the new regulatory requirements and close stores engaged in the illegal sale of cannabis.

"Over the past several weeks I have been working with the legislature on new legislation to improve New York's regulatory structure for cannabis products," Governor Hochul said. "The continued existence of illegal dispensaries is unacceptable, and we need additional enforcement tools to protect New Yorkers from dangerous products and support our equity initiatives. I am proud of our continued progress creating the entirely new legal cannabis industry and helping legal dispensaries open their doors to offer safer cannabis products to New Yorkers."

The new legislation, which is being introduced as a Governor's program bill in the Senate and Assembly, amends the Tax Law and the Cannabis Law to enable the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) and local law enforcement to enforce restrictions on unlicensed storefront dispensaries. The legislation does not impose any new penalties related to cannabis possession by an individual for personal use and does not allow local law enforcement to perform enforcement actions against individuals.

This legislation, for the first time, would allow OCM and DTF to crack down on unlicensed activity, protect New Yorkers, and ensure the success of new cannabis businesses in New York. The legislation would restructure current illicit cannabis penalties to give DTF peace officers enforcement authority, create a manageable, credible, fair enforcement system, and would impose new penalties for retailers that evade State cannabis taxes. Additionally, it would clarify and expand OCM's authority to seize illicit product, establish summary procedures for OCM and other governmental entities to shut down unlicensed businesses, and create a framework for more effective cross-agency enforcement effort. Violations of the law could lead to fines of $200,000 for illicit cannabis plants or products and would allow OCM to fine businesses $10,000 per day for engaging in cannabis sales without a license.

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, "The success of New York's historic equity-based approach to the cannabis industry depends on upholding our cannabis laws. Entrepreneurs looking to participate in our legal cannabis industry -- especially justice-involved individuals looking for a CAURD license -- are being economically harmed by bad actors filling their storefronts with products that are questionable, unregulated and potentially dangerous. The Office of Cannabis Management is fully committed to working with our partners across the state to permanently shut these operations down and allow legal, licensed businesses to grow and thrive."

New York State Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller said, "New York State is building its cannabis market, while advancing the unique social equity components of the MRTA. Adult-use cannabis taxes fund our schools and drug treatment and public education programs. These taxes also contribute to the New York State Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which reinvests tax revenue from cannabis sales to communities most impacted by over policing and cannabis prohibition. These new essential tax enforcement capabilities will allow us to crack down on illegal operations and help ensure these overdue opportunities exist for those communities."

The full legislative text is available here:


Release from NY Medical Cannabis Industry Association


The following statement can be attributed to the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association:

Our members commend Governor Hochul for finally releasing a bill that bolsters the state's ability to enforce the rules of the legal cannabis market. Enforcement against unregulated bad actors is critical to protecting and expanding the state's struggling medical cannabis program and a key for launching an affordable, accessible, and competitive adult-use cannabis market.

As the state moves to establish a robust, well-regulated, and safe adult-use program, it is equally critical that the existing medical program is supported. Indeed, the program suffers in large part due to competition from the proliferation of illegal pop-up shops. Removing the 7 percent excise tax from medical cannabis products, as the Senate has proposed in its one-house budget resolution, would further this goal by helping patients more easily afford the medications they rely on.


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