New York unveils tool to identify legitimate marijuana stores

As a legal cannabis market takes off in New York, the city must find a way to distinguish legal businesses from the illegal ones that have thrived since the drug was decriminalized.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has unveiled a new tool to govern illegal businesses. The new verification system takes the form of a QR code that can inform consumers whether the products they are consuming are legal and therefore likely to be safer. It is released outside of legitimate stores.

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“It is critical for New York’s cannabis consumers to understand the risks of purchasing untested, illegal products and have the tools to guide them to a safer, legal market that is about to open,” Hochul said.

“These tools will help protect public health and strengthen our ability to create the equitable cannabis market that our law envisions. We will continue to work with our community partners across the state to enforce the law and take down illegal operators selling products that endanger New Yorkers.”

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Beginning in the new year, the state government will launch an education campaign called “Why Buy Legal New York,” which hopes to curb sales from the hundreds of established illegal marijuana stores that have popped up across the city.

“We will use every tool available to strengthen the fair, legal, adult-use cannabis market that we are building, and the Dispensary Verification Tool unveiled today by Governor Hochul is one step in that process,” said Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Administration. “Our enforcement team has expanded its partnerships and activities from Buffalo to New York City and will continue to do so until these illegal businesses and trucks are closed.”

RELATED: Will New York be able to control its underground market?

As legitimate businesses began to open, illegal businesses were sanctioned. ABC 7 reports that the state government has inspected over 53 locations in state counties and seized over $4 million worth of illegal products in recent weeks.

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