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7 illegal cannabis shops shut down in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties

Legal cannabis dispensaries in New York will have a verification card like this posted by the entrance. Customers can scan the QR code to validate the store they are entering is state-licensed.
New York Office of Cannabis Management
Legal cannabis dispensaries in New York will have a verification card like this posted by the entrance. Customers can scan the QR code to validate the store they are entering is state-licensed.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the first illegal cannabis stores were padlocked in upstate New York. The governor introduced new cannabis law enforcement actions earlier this year, which could fine violators $10,000 a day, which doubles to $20,000 if a business continues to sell after a violation is affixed to their window.

The state said David Tulley is illegally operating eight retail cannabis "I'm Stuck" stores in Cayuga, Monroe, Oswego and Wayne counties. Stores that were shut down were located in Auburn, Lyons, Macedon, Ontario, Pulaski and Williamson.

The state said Tulley's "I'm Stuck" stores made illicit sales and processed and packaged cannabis products without a license. They said he ignored repeated notices and Office of Cannabis Management orders.

“As we work to build and expand the legal cannabis market, it’s critical to crack down on illegal operators who are breaking the law and undermining the success of entrepreneurs and consumers who follow the rules,” Hochul said. “This year I fought to enact new legislation that protects New Yorkers by granting new power to State agencies and our Attorney General to take new enforcement actions against bad actors. New York will continue to fight for an equitable cannabis industry that rights the wrongs of the past while protecting the health and safety of all New Yorkers.”

OCM sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tulley in February 2022, later issuing violations to his stores when he continued to operate.

"In emails to OCM, Tulley misleadingly described his stores as a “consulting” business that informs customers about the effects of cannabis, and in return, customers receive free cannabis products," the state said in a release. "However, undercover OAG investigators visited six “I’m Stuck” locations owned by Tulley and were able to purchase $1,000 worth of cannabis products."

Investigators from the Office of the Attorney General observed the store selling to minors on several occasions. At the "I'm Stuck" location in Ontario, an undercover investigator could purchase $200 of cannabis products for an underaged undercover.

“Legalizing cannabis in New York was a historic milestone to correct the harms of the past, but there are laws that must be followed to ensure cannabis products are safe and kept out of the hands of minors,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “David Tulley brazenly violated our laws, cheated taxpayers, and endangered our kids by selling unregulated cannabis to underage customers. [Monday's] enforcement action should send a clear message that businesses that are selling cannabis without a license will be stopped. I thank Gov. Hochul and her administration for their partnership on this effort to protect New Yorkers.”

James and the OCM are seeking penalties from Tulley's operation with Tulley potentially fined millions. The petition also seeks penalties from building owners where Tulley's stores operated — those owners can be fined $10,000 a day for each day unlicensed sales occurred at their property.

Tulley is represented by Attorney Joseph Bondy.

"In response to the detailed press releases of the Governor’s Office and Office of Cannabis Management, I note that the OCM and Attorney General have acted ex parte and without notice to secure temporary closure of seven of Mr. Tulley’s cannabis consulting locations, which also sold legal goods, ranging from cannabis culture and lifestyle fashionwear to ancillary products for the legal consumption of cannabis, in what we believe to be a violation of the Cannabis Law," Bondy said. "We will defend against the efforts to further enjoin Mr. Tulley on a number of specific statutory and constitutional grounds, which will be made by public court filing."

Bondy said he believes the regulatory inspections "appear to be little more than thinly veiled and pretextual warrantless searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment and state constitutional rights of all New Yorkers."

"Ironically, although the OCM frequently warns of the perils of the proliferation of untested cannabis being made available in thousands of storefront locations throughout the state, it neglects that the possession and gifting of cannabis has been permitted by law in New York since March 31, 2021—prior to the existence of a single licensed cannabis retail store," Bondy said. "The legislature obviously did not then find it to be a threat to public safety for all New Yorkers to be allowed to possess what was, at that time, untested cannabis from exclusively unlicensed sources. Nor is there any such limitation on the possession or gifting of cannabis under our penal code today."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.