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New York State Cannabis Enforcement

New York’s efforts to shut down illicit cannabis activity and support the growing legal, equitable market.
An Overview
OCM's Enforcement Division

On March 31, 2021, the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law, legalizing cannabis in New York State. With the mission of creating a regulatory framework that supports equitable licensing, economic development and public health and safety, the Enforcement Division plays a critical role in making sure the rules apply to everybody. The current enforcement efforts protect the integrity and investment of entrepreneurs in the legal market, while holding accountable individuals selling illegal, untested and unsafe products to communities across the state.

Governor Kathy Hochul recently unveiled the strongest set of policies enacted thus far to tackle the illicit cannabis marketplace as part of the FY25 Budget. This initiative provides the Office of Cannabis Management and local counties and cities with enhanced authority to act against illicit cannabis storefronts and those who enable them.

This initiative in collaboration with the OCM Enforcement Division is comprised of highly trained, sworn law enforcement investigators, as well as analysts and civilian support staff, the team’s vital, collaborative work involves investigating all violations related to the Cannabis Law and OCM regulations. Additionally, the team conducts background checks on license applicants and partners with local law enforcement to investigate and pursue cases related to cannabis violations. 

“Strengthening New York’s equitable cannabis industry and protecting the hard-working small business owners operating in the legal market are top priorities, and the best way to accomplish those goals is by expediting the shutdown of unlicensed shops.”
– Governor Kathy Hochul  

 

What is legal vs illegal?  

  • It is legal for adults 21 and over to consume cannabis in a private home or in most places tobacco can be consumed. Cannabis cannot be consumed in motor vehicles, hookah/cigar bars, businesses, restaurants (including patios), federal property (including public housing), and most public and state parks as well as beaches.
  • It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate (edibles, oil).
  • It is legal for certified patients (or their designated caregiver 21+) who are registered with the medical cannabis program to cultivate medical cannabis at home.

 

  • It is illegal to sell cannabis products without a license approved by the Office.
  • It is illegal to sell cannabis products in New York State that has not been grown, manufactured, and tested in the State.
  • It is illegal to remove a padlock from an illicit cannabis storefront.  
  • It is illegal to allow tenants to sell cannabis products in a storefront not licensed by OCM.
  • It is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis, including medical cannabis.
  • It is illegal to sell or offer to sell adult-use cannabis products to anybody under 21 years of age.
  • It is illegal to trade, barter, or “gift” cannabis to someone in exchange for something else. This includes “gifting” cannabis while selling something else (like a t-shirt or a sticker).
  • It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. Cannabis consumption can slow motor coordination and other skills needed to drive safely. It is also illegal for passengers to consume cannabis in a vehicle. If you drive under the influence of cannabis, you can be charged with a DUI.
  • It is illegal to grow or smoke cannabis in any federally funded or recognized public housing facility. Growing cannabis, even for medical purposes, in public housing could result in your loss of housing support.  

 

 

What is the Role of the OCM Enforcement Division in the NYS cannabis market?

The Office of Cannabis Management Enforcement Division, upholds New York’s cannabis laws and regulations. We support the integrity of the legal cannabis market through:

  • Investigating complaints of unlicensed or illegal cannabis activity through regulatory inspections and investigations
  • Shutting down businesses that violate our cannabis laws and regulations
  • Preventing the sale of cannabis to minors
  • Stopping unsafe products from entering the cannabis market
  • Seizing prohibited, unlicensed, and illegal cannabis products
  • Coordinating enforcement actions with local law enforcement and other state agencies 

 

 

Since May 2023

727 Total Incident Report Inspections
17,761 lbs of Unlicensed Cannabis Products Seized
(Estimated at a Value of $82,539,266)
 
Administrative Hearings
How Do I Request a Hearing?
The mission of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is to conduct fair, impartial hearings for operations regulated by the OCM. The work of OCM OAH to safeguard the due process rights of respondents is a key part of the mandate of OCM to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) preside over administrative hearings brought by the Office of General Counsel, as well as appeals of licensing decisions brought by licensees and prospective licensees.
Illicit Cannabis Enforcement Task Force
What is the Governor’s Illicit Cannabis Enforcement Task Force?

The New York State Illicit Cannabis Enforcement Task Force (ICET) is a coordinated, state-wide inter-agency effort launched to shut down illegal and illicit cannabis businesses that threaten public health and safety; the social and economic equity efforts of OCM; and the sustainability of the licensed cannabis market. The following stakeholders are engaged in the effort and are working alongside our partners in local law enforcement and city and county government statewide.

 

The following stakeholders will be engaged in the effort:  
New York State PoliceDepartment of Corrections and Community Supervision  
Department of Taxation and FinanceDepartment of Environmental Conservation   
State Liquor Authority   Department of Financial Services
Department of Agriculture and MarketsDivision of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
Department of StateThruway Authority
Department of HealthOffice of General Services
Department of LaborOffice of Information Technology Services
Department of Motor VehiclesWorkers' Compensation Board
 
The Task Force Objectives include:  
  • Closing the doors of brick-and-mortar illicit cannabis operations through a sustained, coordinated effort   
  • Preventing the sale of illicit cannabis to underage buyers (under 21)   
  • Capturing lost revenue and ensuring illicit operators and the landlords who lease to them are held accountable for the negative impacts of their violation of State law  
  • Protecting New Yorkers from the risk of consuming illicit cannabis products

 

VIEW ENFORCEMENT OVERVIEW

 
Reporting An Incident
How Do I Report an Incident?
To make sure you are protecting your community from illicit cannabis sales and unregulated products:  

Report any issues with a cannabis business, cannabis product, and adverse events at the link below. All incident reports of potential illicit shops are investigated by the Office’s Enforcement Division. Here’s what you need to know:

  • An adult-use cannabis product’s packaging and labeling cannot be attractive to individuals under 21 and cannot make statements that are false or can mislead consumers. Check adult-use PLMA regulations or discover PLMA overview videos for more information.   
  • Legal shops will always feature the NYS Dispensary Verification Tool in the storefront and will link to the OCM dispensary verification list.
  • For any questions about enforcement or an incident report, email [email protected].

 

REPORT AN INCIDENT

 

What are the Risks of Buying Unregulated Products?  

When you buy unregulated products from illicit shops, you don’t know what you’re getting. Unregulated products purchased online and from unlicensed stores are a safety risk as they have not been tested for contaminants, processing methods are unknown, and the label could say one thing and the contents may be something entirely different.

Additionally, they can be attractive to children or minors under 21. Not only is it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase or consume adult-use cannabis, it can be dangerous to their health, sometimes requiring a visit to the emergency department or even a hospital stay. Below are examples of unregulated cannabis products collected during OCM’s enforcement seizures.

This is NOT #NYcannabis.

Unregulated Cannabis Products

 

 

OCM Incident Complaint to Resolution Process
How Does an Enforcement Incident Report Get Resolved?

The following is a broad overview on how a complaint to OCM originates, is vetted and prioritized, and subsequently resolved by OCM: 

Complaint to Resolution Flowchart 1

Complaint to Resolution Flowchart 2

Please Note: OCM is primarily a civil regulatory enforcement agency that enforces the Cannabis law and the licensing regulations that protect the public from harmful or untested products. In rare circumstances, certain cannabis sales can have criminal consequences.

 

Key Terms
  • Regulatory inspections: An administrative check at any location believed to be selling cannabis products, in order to verify that the location is legally operating under Cannabis Law and within all the rules and regulations of OCM.   
  • Criminal investigations: An investigation into an alleged violation of law, wherein any accusatory evidence that is found may be used in a criminal prosecution of the responsible person.
  • Compliant: Any place of business fully licensed and following all the statutory and regulatory requirements issued by OCM.  
  • Non-compliant: Any licensed place of business selling, advertising, or offering for sale cannabis, cannabis product, or prohibited hemp products in violation of any statutory and regulatory requirements issued by OCM.  
  • Notice of Violation (NOV): A notice given or posted to any person or business found to have been selling, offering for sale, cultivating or processing cannabis products in contravention of Cannabis Law and applicable OCM adopted regulations.
  • Cease Order: An order to stop the prohibited activity indicated on the NOV.
  • Civil Proceeding: Administrative hearings requested by the respondent in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
  • Illicit cannabis shops: Any location selling, offering for sale or advertising cannabis without a license.  
  • Unregulated products: Cannabis products that have not been explicitly grown, processed, and sold in NY by OCM licensee holders, as well as any prohibited hemp products non-conforming with OCM adopted rules and regulations.  
  • Order to Seal (OTS): OCM shall have the authority to issue an OTS to the building/premises engaged in unlicensed activity when such activity poses an imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare.  

 

“Thank you on behalf of the licensed cannabis community and advocacy groups. We are sincerely grateful for the proactive leadership efforts and work to take common sense measures that address and eliminate the proliferation of unlicensed cannabis storefronts.” 
– Osbert Orduña, CEO, The Cannabis Place 

Dispensary Verification Tool
How to Find a Legal Dispensary

While adults 21+ can access safer, tested cannabis products from over 100 licensed cannabis dispensaries across the state, top of mind for consumers is, “how do I know if I am shopping at a legal dispensary?”

 
To make sure you are purchasing cannabis from a legal, licensed dispensary:

Look for the Dispensary Verification Tool, pictured below. All licensed dispensaries are issued a Dispensary Verification Tool which is posted in the storefront. Scan the QR code to be directed to OCM's website with a list of all licensed adult-use cannabis dispensaries and ensure the dispensary you are visiting is listed on OCM’s website. 

DVT

FIND A NYS LICENSED DISPENSARY

ADULT-USE CONSUMER INFORMATION

 

How do I know if I am buying regulated products from a licensed adult-use cannabis dispensary?

The Office of Cannabis Management requires certain safety requirements for all approved adult-use and medical cannabis products. All cannabis product packaging should clearly display:  

  • A list of ingredients
  • An expiration date
  • Amount of THC and CBD contained in the product
  • Processor’s lot number

 

All regulated products will have a QR code or link to that product’s lab testing results called a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). All cannabis products must pass lab testing before being sold at licensed adult-use or medical dispensaries. Lab testing ensures cannabis products available are safer to consume and are accurately labeled with potency.

HOW TO READ A COA FOR CANNABIS PRODUCTS

HOW TO READ AN ADULT-USE CANNABIS LABEL