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NY judge imposes $15 million fine on unlicensed cannabis shops owner who says he gave free samples

May 23, 2024 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The owner of seven unlicensed cannabis shops in New York whose promotions included an Easter egg hunt has been fined more than $15 million after state officials complained he repeatedly ignored notices to stop operating without approval, authorities said.

A state Supreme Court justice in Lyons, New York, imposed the fine against David Tulley on Wednesday. Acting Justice Richard Healy penalized Tulley 90% of his gross sales from February 2022 to May 2023 as well as $10,000 for each day he operated without licenses.

“This punishment should serve as a clear warning for all unlicensed cannabis stores in the state: We will enforce the law and shut down your operations,” state Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, adding that Tulley also was accused of illegally selling cannabis products to underage customers.

Tulley owned the “I’m Stuck” and “Weed Warehouse” businesses in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties in western New York. He and his lawyer did not immediately return text and phone messages seeking comment Thursday.

Tulley told The Associated Press last year that his shops did not need state licenses because they only offered consulting and education about cannabis products for a fee and provided free samples. He also denied selling products to underage people.

“We’re ready to go to war with New York state,” he said at the time.

New York has had difficulties addressing the thousands of unlicensed retailers that have popped up after legal sales began in the state in late 2022. The problem is particularly pronounced in New York City, where unlicensed retailers have operated with impunity, often from glittering storefronts.

State officials shut down Tulley’s shops in July of last year.

In April 2023, his stores advertised Easter egg hunts in public places including playgrounds and churches, authorities said. The eggs could be redeemed for cannabis products and children’s toys, officials said. A state investigator redeemed numerous eggs for cannabis flower, edibles, cannabis seeds and other products at one of Tulley’s stores in Macedon, authorities said.

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