New York is poised to award its first retail licenses to sell legal cannabis products Monday — but regulated dealers will face getting smoked out by a thriving black market, The Post has learned.
The state’s Cannabis Control Board is expected to review applications from businesses and nonprofits and grant some of the first of 150 “Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary Licenses.”
Some of the shops could be open for sale by the end of the year — but industry leaders argue that without a proper crackdown on illegal sellers, the budding businesses could be set up to fail.
“[State pols] are tanking the market before it can begin because the illicit market is already selling on the streets, and it’s not taxed,” said Joseph Davidson, CEO of Nevada-based cannabis consulting firm Qanvus. “I’m walking through New York now, and I’m smelling weed!”
Recreational marijuana was legalized as part of last year’s budget process, but the law failed to establish an enforcement mechanism to crack down on the blazing black-market trade.
Although unlicensed shops still can’t sell or “gift” cannabis, illegal pot products have been getting passed around the city like a blunt circle, making for stiff competition for the soon-to-open legal sellers.
“It’s backwards the way they are rolling it out and I think it’s short sighted,” Davidson told The Post. “If I was a business person, I wouldn’t invest in the retail market here.”
The black market is even growing like a weed in tidier neighborhoods – such as Kew Gardens, Queens – where a Post reporter easily purchased gummies and other smokeable products on Saturday evening.
The reporter bought “premium cannabis flower” described as “The Runtz” and “Krazy Runtz” as a two package deal at Triangle Dreams located at 82-64 Austin Street. The store employee showed the weed in display glass containers, before ringing it up for $70 cash.
The scribe then bought cannabis-infused “Cotton Cluster” gummies for $25 in cash from Lefferts Exotics at 81-27 Lefferts Blvd. The display package described the contents having 10 mg of THC for each gummy and 100 mg for a bag of 10.
Another reporter went to NYC Convenience at 40 Exchange Place in Lower Manhattan, where he bought two pre-rolled joints. He paid $15.60 per stick with a credit card. The receipt left the items unlisted.
The marijuana dispensary licenses set to be handed out Monday are part of a group of up to 36 initial approvals.
Up to 150 licenses will eventually doled out — all to New Yorkers previously convicted for marijuana offenses. The delay in handing out all of the expected licenses stems from a recent federal-court injunction temporarily blocking licenses from being awarded in parts of the…