Crackdown on marijuana 'sticker stores'
WATKINS GLEN--State Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C-Big Flats), Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning), and Assemblyman Chris Friend (R,C-Big Flats) joined regional law enforcement representatives and other local leaders to call on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the leaders of the state legislature to approve legislation and crack down on the proliferation of businesses, commonly known as "sticker stores." These businesses dispense and sell marijuana throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, in addition to statewide.
O'Mara, Palmesano, and Friend currently sponsor legislation that, if enacted, would strengthen existing law, outlaw sticker stores, and establish criminal and civil penalties for violators. Any civil penalties collected by the state would be remitted to the county of the violating establishment.
In a joint statement, O'Mara, Palmesano, and Friend said, "New York state needs to stop the proliferation of illegal marijuana 'sticker stores' throughout the region we represent and statewide. These illegal operations diminish the quality of life and risk the safety of the communities and neighborhoods where they operate. New York state is establishing a legal and appropriately regulated network of adult-use recreational marijuana dispensaries, with all the necessary safeguards. While we opposed the legalization of marijuana from the outset, if it's going to go forward, it needs to take place under a legally established system with the appropriate oversight. We need to make it clear that these illegal sticker stores cannot operate and that there are criminal and civil consequences for any owners who continue to do so."
Calling on Hochul to step up state efforts to shut down the illegal operations, the area state legislators were joined in Watkins Glen by the following regional law enforcement representatives and local leaders: Schuyler County Sheriff Kevin Rumsey; Schuyler County Administrator Fonda Chronis; Schuyler County District Attorney Joe Fazzary; Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman; Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes; Chemung County Sheriff William Schrom; Chemung County Executive Assistant District Attorney Wayne Witherwax; Chemung County Legislator Bill McCarthy; Steuben County Sheriff James Allard; Steuben County Legislator Hilda Lando; Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard; Tioga County District Attorney Kirk Martin; Penn Yan Police Chief Todd Dunham; and Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella.
Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella said, "The legalization of marijuana was a decision by the state of New York. However, at the time of legalization the state had not yet created a licensing body or sufficient regulations to allow for the commercial sale of marijuana. This created a market and a demand for a product that was met by unlicensed and unregulated businesses and individuals selling or gifting marijuana across the state."
New York state legalized adult-use recreational marijuana in 2021. Since then, commercial establishments, commonly known as "sticker stores," have used their businesses as a front to sell or gift cannabis without the requisite lawful authority or permission from the state.
In February 2022, the newly established state Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) deemed the practice of gifting "illegal under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)." At that time, OCM identified more than two dozen alleged violators statewide and sent cease and desist letters to the owners of illegal operations.
Despite OCM's enforcement actions and warnings, numerous stores locally and throughout New York continue to violate the law with minimal consequences.