Black market for weed in New York thrives before legal sales

Hello, and welcome to Monday’s New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you up to date on what’s happening this week in health care news, and provide you with a look back at important news from the past week.

Although New York legalized marijuana for adults over a year ago, the state has yet to issue a single dispensary license. The result was weed free for all: Cannabis seems to be on sale everywhere – in main shops, bodegas, even on folding tables on street corners. Some dealers brazenly sell in public, and many brag that their produce was grown in California.

The result is not unlike what happened when California legalized marijuana. Six years later, illegal vendors and growers continue to thrive there. Despite these struggles, New York leaders decided to take a soft approach with anyone selling without a license. Now, an industry expected to generate a $4.2 billion market by 2027 could stumble upon its arrival as it competes with the burgeoning black market.

… When New York became the 15th state to legalize cannabis, lawmakers saw an opportunity to reverse past wrongs. They decided to expunge some marijuana-related criminal records and offered priority on marijuana business licenses to “people involved in the justice system” with previous weed convictions.

In this context, lawmakers hesitated to throw the book to those who are now caught selling unlicensed cannabis and have given unclear enforcement instructions to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management. “Since we didn’t think this was going to happen, we didn’t put anything in the bill that would give the CMO and police departments very clear rules of the road to shut them down,” the senator said. ‘states Liz Krueger, a sponsor of the bill to legalize recreational cannabis.

Krueger thinks the police already have the right to seize illegal products and close the offending stores. New York Mayor Eric Adams, a fellow Democrat, doesn’t seem to share that view, however.

… Earlier this year, a bill stalled in Albany this would have strengthened penalties for illicit cannabis sales and clarified the CMO’s role in law enforcement.

Many stores selling unregulated cannabis products are already authorized to sell alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. Governments could revoke the licenses of offending stores, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, but “we haven’t sought to do that at all.”

… The recent repressive push may not be enough to mitigate the impact of the illegal market, especially with the expected opening of the first regulated stores in the coming months.


— NAACP of New Yorkthe Center for Black Health and Equity, Miss Abbie’s Kids and others will gather today to support the bill that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Westchester County.

— Compassion and choice will kick off a grassroots, two-month statewide campaign on Wednesday to promote passage of the “medical assistance in dying law” in 2023.

— The Council for Public Health and Health Planning will hold a special full board meeting on Thursday.

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SPEAK UP – POLITICO’s Anna Gronewold: As New York Democrats wonder if they talked too much about reproductive rights ahead of Election Day, women’s advocates in Puerto Rico are urging them to talk more.

A group of health workers and advocates says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and other New York elected officials who were in San Juan for the annual SOMOS conference that women on the island desperately need more reproductive care. This includes contraceptives and pre and postpartum care – but they are excluded from the conversations on the issue that are taking place between states.

Although abortion remains legal in Puerto Rico, access to the procedure is limited, primarily due to availability, location of clinics, and cost. The clinics receive almost no public funding. And there are few long-term resources to empower women, such as comprehensive sex education and resources for working mothers, said advocates gathered at Centro MAM, a community clinic that serves the maternal health population in Porto Rico.

SEE YOU IN COURT – POLITICO’s Mona Zhang: A federal judge has temporarily blocked New York from issuing its first recreational marijuana retail licenses in certain areas, shaking up the state’s nascent cannabis industry.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe granted a temporary restraining order to Variscite, which challenged the marijuana licensing scheme for violating the dormant Commerce Clause. The injunction applies to five geographic areas: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson and Brooklyn.

In his decision, Sharpe cited cases in Maine, Missouri and Michigan. where cannabis laws have been successfully challenged on similar constitutional grounds. The state’s application requirements “will have a discriminatory effect on out-of-state residents applying for a CAURD license,” the court order reads.

WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you! Send topical tips, health tips, ideas, reviews and corrections to [email protected].

NOW WE KNOW — Laughing is good for health.

TIP OF THE DAY — The Los Angeles Times offers tips for improving your mental health after DST ends.

MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW Shannon @ShannonYoung413 on Twitter. And for all New Jersey health news, check out Daniel Han, @danieljhan_.

STUDY THIS – Via CNN: “A mindfulness meditation class may be as effective at reducing anxiety as common medication, new study finds.”

STAT examines how a “Democratic Senate improves prospects for Biden’s health and science priorities, including leading candidates.”

Many Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities don’t have long-term plans for when family members can no longer care for them, reports Kaiser Health News.

The New York Times reports that inspectors repeatedly cited a Manhattan nursing home before an outbreak of Legionnaires.

“Colorado Voters passed a ballot initiative to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms for people 21 and older and to create state-regulated “healing centers”,” reports the Associated Press.

BuzzFeed News examines how an Ohio county is trying to erase up to $240 million in medical debt.

Nationwide Republicans leaned heavily on crime mid-run — and fell flat, POLITICO’s Erin Durkin reports. But he made gangbusters in New York, where a tabloid drumbeat of mayhem resonated with voters in the city’s suburbs, helping the GOP claim an open seat in New York House and wrest three more from control. democrat.

POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian reports that just days after Republicans won supermajorities in the Florida Legislature, the state Senate is considering tougher abortion limits in the next legislative session.

RJ Reynolds, the maker of Newport menthol cigarettes, and several other tobacco companies have filed suit and sought a preliminary injunction against the state of California in the District Court for the Southern District of California, arguing that its voter-approved ban on flavored tobacco products is unconstitutional, reports Katherine Ellen Foley of POLITICO.

Ben Leonard of POLITICO reports that Congress is likely to pass a temporary extension to Medicare rules by the end of the year that would make it easier for patients to use telehealth, according to four health lobbyists and a housekeeper.

Gender-Affirming Care Providers are pushing to ensure they can continue prescribing testosterone virtually after the pandemic is over, Ben also reports.

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