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Toxic Highs-Don't Buy Cannabis in New York Until You Read This

By: Marie Scarci | December 2, 2022

Manhattan, NY-New Yorkers seeking to purchase cannabis products may find themselves enticed by unlicensed storefronts, yet a new report exposes the dangerous reality lurking beneath these enticing facades: contaminated and potentially hazardous merchandise. In fact, some of the items contain harmful bacteria, heavy metals, or toxic pesticides – all enough to turn an outing into something much more sinister.

Tests on products bought from 20 different smoke shops and dispensaries revealed alarming levels of contaminants, misinformation concerning potency, and an overall failure to meet safety standards. This news is being met by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA ) with dismay as it has released a report that highlights deeply concerning findings in its survey.

The NYMCIA represents licensed medical dispensary owners in New York who are worried about the danger posed by a spike of retail stores falsely claiming their products meet state regulations. The findings add to growing concerns from elected officials and regulators that these unregulated shops may present significant risks for consumers.

After years of anticipation from New Yorkers, the wait is almost over. Last month, state regulators granted retail cannabis dispensary licenses to 36 businesses across the Empire State - with legal sales set for December 2020. Currently, only medical patients can purchase marijuana products at 38 medical dispensaries that are members of the NYMCIA.

The medical dispensary industry in New York is feeling the squeeze from their exclusion from retail sales, while illicit storefronts continue to operate without consequence. The report has been released in part to add pressure on the authorities to take action against such operations, with an eye toward proposed regulations that would require them to invest up $3 million dollars just for entry.

In an alarming turn of events, the recent analysis revealed that 16 out of 40 products tested contained contaminants - including nine with less THC than their labels suggested. The lab tests also noted one type of gummy was double its expected potency per serving, this is cause for concern amongst consumers and retailers alike.

Nine cannabis products have been found to contain dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, which could lead to serious health complications if consumed. Symptoms of potential infection from these contaminants include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and cramps; in severe cases, the results can be life-threatening.

According to state regulations, all tainted items must not be sold for consumer use due to them posing an extreme risk - loose flower and prerolled joints were amongst those affected goods listed on the report.

New York consumers were recently exposed to dangerous products after a statewide investigation revealed 11 high-traffic stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn that had been selling goods without lawful permission. Upon further examination, it was determined the shops did indeed appear legitimate through their listing on Google Maps -- but have since received cease-and-desist orders from state officials.

Nickel, lead and several pesticides were also found in several of the vape products tested, which in some cases were 5 times the legal amount allowed.

Last week, the agency's governing board officially adopted regulations that would deny cannabis licenses to those operating without proper authorization. This confirmation serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with unregulated products and reinforces why it is essential for anyone dealing in this industry to adhere to established rules and guidelines.

Mayor Eric Adams announced that a groundbreaking joint interagency enforcement pilot with the city has achieved remarkable success! So far, over 100,000 items have been seized and 300 civil and criminal violations issued. This bold new initiative signals an important shift in how cities will work together to ensure public safety for years to come.


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