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Marijuana sales up statewide, but not in city

Photo courtesy Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office Gov. Kathy Hochul is pictured holding the types of items being sold in unlicensed marijuana shops throughout the state.

Legal cannabis sales have increased 27% since the state began increasing enforcement actions against shops selling marijuana products illegally.

None of those increased sales have come from Jamestown, however, which still doesn’t have a licensed marijuana shop open inside the city limits. Chautauqua County residents who want to purchase legal cannabis still find themselves traveling to the neighboring Native American reservations or all the way to Buffalo.

In April, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new initiatives to shut down illicit cannabis operations and protect the legal marketplace as part of the state’s 2024-25 budget. The plan gave the Office of Cannabis Management and local municipalities new authority to act against illegal storefronts. May brought the first efforts by the Cannabis Enforcement Task Force. The Task Force, led by the State Police First Deputy Superintendent, is a statewide effort to coordinate staff from several agencies to combat the illicit cannabis market. Through collaboration between the State Police, OCM, and other state agencies, Hochul said the task force is equipped to tackle the full scope of illegal cannabis activity. The task force has shut down 114 illegal cannabis stores and seized $29,306,247 worth of illegal substances.

One of those shops was the Royal Smoke Shop at 712 E. Second St. Jamestown police officers and investigators from the state Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division conducted numerous adult use cannabis inspections in Jamestown and Ellicott on April 24. The Royal Smoke Shop located at 712 E. Second St., was found to be noncompliant and selling illicit adult use cannabis. The Royal Smoke Shop was issued an EN-183C, Unregistered Cannabis Dealer letter.

Earlier this month Hochul announced the appointment of Felicia A. B. Reid as executive deputy director and acting executive director of the state Office of Cannabis Management while a national search is held for a new permanent director. Reid is overseeing licensing, compliance and enforcement as well as changes that have been recommended for the office. Among the things Hochul wants to see is better communication between the Office of Cannabis Management and those trying to open legal marijuana shops, like those from Jamestown who have applied but not yet received a license.

“OCM is making the necessary reforms, the way they do business, better results for our small businesses, unclogging the licensing bottleneck, streamlining the application process, improving communications, right?” Hochul said during a recent news conference. “Just telling people your status, where it’s at, likely to be approved or not. Should I invest any more money, any more time, any more energy? Just let me know, right? Just give people answers.”

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