Rochester cracks down on illegal cannabis shops

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The City of Rochester just passed legislation to crack down on illegal cannabis sales. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. I thought it was legal.” That’s not the case. The New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will begin to take applications for marijuana dispensaries next week. However, right now it is illegal to sell weed.

So what’s the new law in Rochester? Basically, any business selling or gifting cannabis could get nuisance points. Not everyone on Rochester City Council was on board with this. Councilmember Stanley Martin says it recriminalizes marijuana.

Here’s an exchange during Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

“There is no recriminalization,” said Councilmember Michael Patterson.

“There is,” said Martin.

“Well, Councilmember you have your opinion, and I didn’t interrupt you. There is no recriminalization because there are no criminal charges to this,” responded Patterson.

Here’s the deal with this new city law. If a business has up to 10 pounds of marijuana that is being sold or gifted it can be assessed six nuisance points. After a business gets a certain number of nuisance points it can be shut down by the city.

Patterson says it won’t target small sellers but businesses that are misrepresenting themselves as legal dispensaries.

“No licenses, ladies and gentlemen, have been permitted for any dispensary in New York State. Full stop. Period,” said Patterson. “So if you’re out there and someone is saying they’re a legal dispensary they’re lying to you.”

Martin brought up several groups who didn’t want this law to move forward including the Legacy Growers Association and Roc NORML.

“This law is entirely regressive,” said Martin. “It’s important to interrupt the narrative that cannabis is connected to violence or guns. These are the same narratives that led to marijuana prohibition that disproportionately impacted black and brown people.”

Rochester’s Corporation Counsel Linda Kingsley says this is a tool to address problems in neighborhoods.

“When neighbors come to us and say this location is a problem for our community, what can you do to bring them into order, not necessarily to close them but to bring them into order, this is a tool we can use to do that,” said Kingsley.

Rochester City Council voted seven to two Tuesday night to pass the legislation. Mitch Gruber, LaShay Harris, Willie Lightfoot, Michael Patterson, Jose Peo, Kim Smith and Miguel Melendez voted yes. Stanley Martin and Mary Lupien voted no.

If you want to take a look at the city’s nuisance point map you can see which businesses have points and how many.

News10NBC also reached out to the OCM. It has sent out cease and desist letters to dozens of stores posing as legal cannabis dispensaries.

“These stores are masquerading as licensed, regulated businesses, but they are nothing of the sort. They aren’t creating opportunity, they are creating confusion – New Yorkers think they’re buying a high-quality, tested product when they aren’t,” said Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management. “Not only are these stores operating in violation of New York’s Cannabis Law, but they also are breaking state tax and several municipal laws. I look forward to working with other regulatory bodies across the state to hold these stores accountable for their flagrant violations of the law.”

Here’s a list of businesses in our area that the OCM identified as illicit cannabis stores:

Fat Daddy’s – Penn Yan & Webster
Hempsol LLC – Rochester
Custom Osmotics LLC – Rochester
MJ Dispensary LLC – Henrietta
Moonhaven Organics – Brockport
Smokers Emporium – Geneseo
Triclomes LLC – Rochester
Carol J. Messina – Rush
I’m Stuck – Newark
Cannabiz – Honeoye Falls

The cease and desist letters can be found here:

Set 1

Set 2