ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – On the corner of North Main and Water Street, World Piece celebrated 4/20 with its first outdoor pop-up market.
“In the area a lot of the cannabis community sees 4/20 as a little holiday if you will,” said co-owner Jessica Riker. “With all of the foot traffic that the cannabis industry will have, I decided to do a little pop-up with all the local vendors outside. You see Copy Express, P.S. – by Brandy, we have a couple of local artists. My goal was to just provide some fun stuff for the community. We have some local growers inside as well, so if you want to meet some local growers, we ask you to go inside, because it is an age-restricted item.”
More than two years after New York State legalized recreational marijuana, the budding green industry is still operating in a gray area that some say is outside the law. A so-called “gifting loophole” allows shops to give away cannabis, while charging customers for stickers or other items instead. State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, whose district includes Corning, Bath, and Watkins Glen, is co-sponsoring a bill to crack down on unlicensed stores that sell cannabis.
“Our legislation would do two things,” said Assemblyman Palmesano. “First, it would criminalize the transfer, sale or gifting of marijuana to someone under the guise of selling them a sticker or a t-shirt. It would also create felony penalties which could possibly lead to jail time. I would also create significant financial penalties, civil penalties. On the first offense it will be up to $10,000. The second offense will be up to $25,000 and the third will be at $50,000. Action needs to be taken. This is a scourge in our local communities all across the Finger Lakes and in the Southern Tier. The communities don’t like it, the local officials don’t like it, and they’re hands are tied. The state of New York needs to provide some leadership.”
“World Piece is not categorized as a sticker shop,” said co-owner Jessica Riker. “It is a retail establishment with a gifting service. So for us to be categorized into those standards is just something that’s not going to be possible. We have so much more to offer than simply a sticker.”
“Would you rather go behind in a dark alley, and buy it from someone who has needles or is selling crack or heroin or something like that” said Jake from The Ground Up. “You come in a store and buy it, it’s a nice place, open environment.”
Assemblyman Palmesano says he expects lawmakers to vote on the legislation before the end of the year. It’s unclear if Gov. Kathy Hochul would sign it.
As people continue to celebrate 4/20, New York State Police and other law enforcement are also cracking down on “drugged driving” by stepping up traffic enforcement to make sure everyone stays safe on the roads.