New York Dispensary Launches ‘Illegal Cannabis Buyback’ Program, Enticing Consumers To Transition To Legal Market With Discounts | Turn 420
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New York Dispensary Launches ‘Illegal Cannabis Buyback’ Program, Enticing Consumers To Transition To Legal Market With Discounts

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A New York marijuana dispensary is taking steps to help eradicate illicit cannabis businesses that have proliferated in the state by offering discounts and benefits to people who transition to the legal market.

Housing Works, the parent company of the state’s first legal adult-use dispensary Housing Works Cannabis Co, announced the “illegal cannabis buyback” program on Thursday. As regulators continue their push to shut down unlicensed operators, the company is providing consumers with incentives to transition to the legal market.

From July 1 to September 1, any person who provides proof of membership at an illicit operator will get a free membership at Housing Works Cannabis Co’s “co-conspirator program,” which includes 25 percent off their first purchase and a 10 percent discount on all their purchases for the next year. The membership normally costs $25.

“This buyback initiative is crucial not only for the health and safety of our customers, which is always our top priority, but also for the legal business operators and those who have fought hard for a place in New York’s legal cannabis market,” Sasha Nutgent, director of retail at Housing Works Cannabis Co, told Marijuana Moment.

“When you purchase from a legal dispensary like Housing Works Cannabis Co, you can rest assured that the purchased products have gone through rigorous state-testing and are approved for safe consumption,” she said. “On top of that, you are supporting an established non-profit that has relentlessly advocated for the safety of the NYC community for over 30 years, as 100 percent of our proceeds go back to Housing Works. This is a pivotal moment for us, our customers and New York’s legal market.”

A press email about the new program says that Housing Works, the nonprofit organization that operates the dispensary, “has prioritized the safety of the NYC community for 30+ years, dedicating efforts to relentless advocacy, lifesaving and housing services and justice for all.”

“They continue to push their mission of safety and community by providing quality, state-tested and approved cannabis products to those who consume,” it says.

Housing Works conducted New York’s first recreational marijuana sales in December 2022.

State lawmakers have separately introduced a bill that would allow people in the state to bring legal actions against entities that violate state marijuana laws, potentially empowering ordinary individuals to sue unlicensed cannabis sellers or licensees skirting state law.

A news report earlier this year found that despite state officials levying more than $25 million in fines against unlicensed retailers for selling cannabis products since last year, only a tiny fraction of those fines had been collected by either the New York Tax Department or the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

Meanwhile, the governor of New York said recently the state’s escalated enforcement actions against illicit marijuana shops is resulting in a significant increase in legal sales at licensed retailers.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) made the comments amid criticism from equity-focused activists over what they see as a “corporate takeover” of the cannabis market, citing recent reporting about the administration dismissing concerns from state officials about a “predatory” private equity loan deal the state approved to provide funding for startup cannabis retailers.

Certain advocates say Hochul has “falsely” blamed the legalization law itself for the state’s troubles with the illicit market, without taking responsibility for the administration’s role. To that end, there has been criticism of the governor’s recent ousting of Chris Alexander as executive director of OCM.

In an attempt to rein in unlicensed sales, the governor in February called on big tech companies such as Google and Meta to “do the right thing” by taking steps to stop promoting illicit marijuana shops, which have proliferated across the state.

Meanwhile, last week New York marijuana regulators formally approved rules to allow adults 21 and older to grow their own cannabis plants for personal use.

A top New York lawmaker also introduced a bill this month to legalize psilocybin for adults, provided they obtain a permit after undergoing a health screening and educational course.



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