New Farmers Markets May Help Transition Customers to the Legal Market

New Farmers Markets May Help Transition Customers to the Legal Market
Watch for more crackdowns on “sticker shops”

A retail alternative involves a plan to allow conditional cultivators and retailers to organize and sell weed at farmers markets this summer, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) recently declared.

The announcement came after a town hall event for cultivators on May 25, organized by the Cannabis Association of New York (CANY) and the OCM. There, the OCM floated the farmers market idea as way for cultivators to sell the thousands of pounds of cannabis they’ve stockpiled since the harvest last fall. The farmers markets would provide safe and easily accessible places for consumers to legally purchase cannabis products.

Rules are currently being drafted for the farmers market program, called the New York Cannabis Growers Showcase. According to preliminary plans outlined by the state, authorized municipalities could host a Cannabis Growers Showcase that featured a minimum of three growers and at least one licensed retailer. On-site consumption of both cannabis and alcohol would be prohibited.

Damian Fagon, the OCM’s chief equity officer, said at the May meeting that the state could get the markets ready to open “optimistically within a month,” reported New York Cannabis Insider.

OCM Director of Policy John Kagia said the Growers Showcase allows cultivators to sell product more quickly across the state, reports High Times. “The idea would be that the retailers are going to be confined to the regions where they’re authorized to operate, but the growers would be able to do this anywhere in the state.”

The announcement of the New York Cultivators Showcase follows the state’s increased efforts to transition consumers to the legal market. On June 7, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation to provide additional power to the OCM and to the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce new regulatory requirements and close stores engaged in the illegal sale of cannabis.

The law bolsters the OCM’s ability to conduct regulatory inspections of businesses that sell and give away cannabis and cannabis products “in indirect ways” and seize untested products from unlicensed business. The OCM is also empowered to seek court orders, closing orders and removal of commercial tenants who are unlicensed.

The Department of Taxation and Finance can also conduct regulatory inspections and is now enabled to levy civil penalties against unlicensed cannabis businesses that carry fines of up to $20,000 a day. The legislation also establishes a new tax fraud crime for businesses that willfully fail to collect or remit required cannabis taxes, or knowingly possess for sale any cannabis on which tax was required to be paid but was not.

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