Protecting New Yorkers’ safety in cannabis use and sales

Getty Images

The 2023 amNY and PoliticsNY Cannabis Industry Power Players are leaders in government and business who are at the forefront of moving the cannabis industry forward. 

This list of leaders includes those who have championed social equity in the industry and have worked to ensure that small and minority-owned businesses have equal access to licenses and funding. The list also highlights individuals and companies driving innovation, promoting and prioritizing safety, and creating new opportunities in the industry.

As cannabis grows into a significant contributor to the New York economy, one of the most important goals of the cannabis industry remains protecting consumers from harm by ensuring safety and quality in legal cannabis.

This includes incorporating proper testing, labeling, packaging, and education to help consumers and healthcare professionals make informed decisions on cannabis use. Testing cannabis helps determine the potency of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, help to assure that products are safe for consumption and meet regulatory requirements. Businesses that fail to comply with quality control regulations might face fines or have their licenses revoked.

Once consumers understand the importance of cannabis’ efficacy and safe usage, they will be more confident and responsible when using cannabis, and reduce any adverse risks.

Currently, the biggest effort to ensure safe cannabis usage in New York is an ongoing effort to stop unlicensed dispensaries that have popped up in recent months, many of which may not follow testing and quality standards that have been established.

Recently, Governor Kathy Hochul empowered the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) to take action against unlicensed dispensaries with penalties and fines of up to $20,000 per day in addition to seizing their products and closing illicit shops.

“Unlicensed dispensaries violate our laws, put public health at risk, and undermine the legal cannabis market,” Hochul said. “These enforcement tools pave the way for safer products, reinvestment in communities that endured years of disproportionate enforcement, and greater opportunities for New Yorkers.”

This legislation also makes it a crime to sell cannabis and cannabis products without a license. Additionally, the OCM will seize untested cannabis and cannabis products from unlicensed businesses and seek court orders, closing orders, and removal of commercial tenants selling cannabis and cannabis products without the appropriate license.

Hochul also recently announced the launch of “Why Buy Legal New York” to promote safer, informed, legal purchases of cannabis from licensed dispensaries in New York State. This public education campaign provides information on how to find legal dispensaries in New York and tips on how to consume cannabis safely. Materials are available at:

The Power Players we recognize in this issue are doing their part to ensure safe usage as New York grows this brand new industry — helping to compensate for past sins while watching a brand new economy rise from the ashes.