Illegal weed products in New York have some residents scared to go to the local dispensaries.
It’s good news that cannabis is becoming more acceptable in social circles and in the medical field. But the market is still highly unregulated. Many companies take advantage by selling weed products that are not as pure and potent as advertised.
A new report shows that illegal weed products in New York dispensaries consistently failed lab tests for purity and potency. Read on to find out more about what the study revealed.
Illegal Weed Products in New York: The Study
Lab tests were conducted by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association on edible candies, smokable weed and vaporizers purchased from 20 different smoke shops and dispensaries in New York. Researchers found the illegal weed products in New York to contain eight different contaminants including salmonella, lead, nickel, and E. coli. They also found that the products were mislabeled in terms of potency.
The association, which represents licensed New York medical dispensary operators, says the study backs concerns of elected officials and regulators regarding the growth of weed sellers that are dishonest about the legality of their products.
What This Means for New York’s Cannabis Market
Currently, New York legally sells medical weed only. But new legislation has allowed for the legal sale of recreational cannabis to begin in December. The study shows that the new laws could increase the risk of illegal weed products in New York being sold.
Medical dispensary operators have previously complained about being shut out of the New York retail market while unlicensed storefronts operated freely. The new study is an attempt to motivate authorities to cut back on illegal weed products in New York and to change proposed regulations that require medical dispensaries to pay at least $3 million to enter the retail market.
Michael Bianco, president of the state licensed lab Talon Analytical, points out how these products can spell bad news for companies who are waiting for compliance. “What we can extrapolate is, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there and there’s a lot of bad players that ruin the market for the people who are taking the legal route to get in the industry,” he said.
What This Means for Weed Smokers
So exactly how dangerous is the weed you consume? Reports are being reviewed to find out. But experts note that the bacteria content in weed may not be an imminent threat as germs may die when burned during smoking. Pesticides and metal may also not do harm if present in small amounts.
There’s also a chance that the weed you smoke may not contain contaminants. For example, just 16 out of the total 40 products tested were found to have contaminants present. The most commonly found contaminants were E. coli and salmonella which were most present in loose flower and pre-rolls.
But that doesn’t mean cannabis products can’t have other issues. For instance, there were also nine products that were not as potent as advertised. And overall, none of the products tested met New York’s standards.
Furthermore, many of the stores visited claimed to be licensed even though they are not. In fact, no adult use stores now operating in New York have been licensed. Researchers also found that many of the products failed quality control tests and did not ask customers for age verification when shopping in their locations.
Varying Opinions on the Study
While the results of the study are causing many people concern over illegal weed products in New York, others, including Steve Zissou, lawyer for Empire Cannabis, a Manhattan nonprofit cannabis selling chain that was found to be selling products with five times the allowable contaminants, dismissed it as a smear campaign.
“Corporate oligarchs put out such smears when they feel their bottom line is being threatened, and- like the people making them- they are not to be trusted.
Zissou further pointed out that Curaleaf, a national cannabis chain with four locations in New York, authorized the study. The seller has previously faced fines, lawsuits, and product recalls in five states as well as a license suspension in Oregon.
Curaleaf defended itself saying the license suspension was its first in 12 years of operation. It also noted that its products were mislabeled due to an oversight.
How Consumers Can Protect Themselves
So, the question is, how can people protect themselves against illegal weed products in New York? Surely, we don’t want to go backward to a time when people were fearful of weed. Nor do we want to have to revert to old legislation that illegalized weed.
But people need to be educated so they can find products that aren’t harmful. So what’s the answer?
Experts stress the need for consumer education. Consumers should be researching to find out if the shops they are buying from are selling illegal weed products in New York, if they are operating legally and if they are licensed. They should be finding out where the products come from, whether the shop is doing lab testing and if the THC levels in the products are accurate.
What’s Being Done
There is also a call for law enforcement to double down on illegal weed products in New York. Ngiste Abebe, the president of the medical industry group, is requesting civil penalties to be levied against businesses that are taking advantage of people who can legally possess cannabis but do not have a way to legally access it.
Spokesman for the Office of Cannabis Management Aaron Ghitelman stated that the study emphasized the risks of unregulated products being sold as well as the need to shut down unlicensed storefront. The agency’s governing board recently adopted regulations that would deny licenses to people selling cannabis from unlicensed storefronts.
The office is also teaming up with the city to cut down on unlicensed storefronts. So far, the initiative has led to the seizure of over 100,000 items and has resulted in 300 civil and criminal violations.
There is no word on whether any action will be taken against the businesses that sold the illegal weed products in New York tested in the report.
Illegal weed products in New York will come as a shock to many users. But with the right education and legal actions, people and governments can work together to promote safe cannabis use. This will allow the industry to continue to thrive.