Leave The Cannabis shopkeepers Alone

Queen Kathy recently announced her intention to crack down on unlicensed cannabis shops, proposing legislation to shut them down and impose heavy fines. It seems she relishes her tyranny as much as her predecessor, trying to ruin the livelihoods of small business owners who are just trying to make a living.

Perhaps if Albany didn’t drag its heels on issuing licenses, more people would be able to obtain them and set up shops that are to Her Majesty’s liking. However, New York State has been grossly incompetent with distributing licenses, forcing those who wish to enter the industry to forego licensure.

Personally, I don’t understand why licensure is even required to begin with. I understand concerns about safety – certainly nobody wants a tainted product, and there is a real risk that cannabis products may be contaminated with fentanyl, which could lead to fatalities. However, we need to be realistic: buying from an unlicensed shop is not the same as buying from some random stranger on the street. Shop owners are more easily held liable if their product isn’t safe, whether they are selling cannabis, tomatoes, or teapots. Selling rotten tomatoes or teapots that explode upon use would definitely land a shopkeeper in hot water; the same applies to cannabis vendors. They will ensure their product does not harm consumers so they can stay in business and out of prison. As we see with the opioid epidemic and recalls on produce, licensure or government approval provides no guarantee that a drug won’t cause serious problems or any assurance that a product isn’t tainted. Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of New York in 2018 and 2022, is right: cannabis should be regulated like onions. The Office of Cannabis Management should be abolished, and anyone should be able to open a cannabis shop and have the ability to apply for an optional government certificate if they wish to provide assurance to customers that their product is genuine.

Queen Kathy should be ashamed, wasting time on nonsense when there are real issues facing this state: lack of jobs outside the NYC metro area, insufficient Metro-North service on the Port Jervis Line, astronomically high taxes, the unaffordable cost of living in this state that is driving record numbers of residents away, increased urban crime, a myriad of regulations which make starting a business nearly impossible, poorly maintained roads, and the decline of small farms.

The cannabis shopkeepers should be left alone, and Albany should focus on reducing the double burden of taxes and regulations that are killing this state.

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