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'It feels like we're getting closer': Office of Cannabis Management visits Syracuse

Office of Cannabis Management handouts at a recent informational meeting in Syracuse.
Ava Pukatch
Office of Cannabis Management handouts at a recent informational meeting in Syracuse.

It's been two years since the legalization of recreational cannabis and many in the state still have questions about adult-use policies and when they might see a dispensary open near them. The Office of Cannabis Management was recently in Syracuse to talk to the community about adult-use cannabis.

Jason Salmon is the deputy director of Campaigns and Communication for the Office of Cannabis Management. He said New York's cannabis legislation does not allow vertical integration — meaning no person can possess more than one license like having both cultivation and retail dispensary.

"You don't want vertical integration to be implemented because then it's only going to be five major corporations that corner this market," Salmon said. "This bill was designed to really promote small business."

Salmon said the industry faces an uphill battle.

"We're up against a 100+ year campaign of stigma, the war on drugs, but just of misinformation that's been carried on from generation to generation," Salmon said.

Some misinformation stems from the schedule one classification of cannabis as while it's legal in the state it's not legal federally. Salmon also cautioned of illicit shops operating in the state as there are only eight legal dispensaries open so far.

"You will know a legal shop when you see one," Salmon said. "They'll have this on front, a QR code that will go directly to our website."

Mayor Ben Walsh said the OCM meeting was a chance to make sure Syracuse is prepared to benefit from the introduction of recreational cannabis.

"It feels like we're getting closer," Walsh said. "We've heard from some perspective businesses that are looking to get into the industry, but we're not there yet. We're going to continue to educate ourselves and work toward that and try to maximize the opportunity."

The Office of Cannabis Management will be back in Syracuse on April 27 for a public housing event at Toomey Abbott Towers. As for when Syracuse might see its first dispensary open?

"The injunction was lifted," Salmon said "That means Syracuse will have a dispensary soon. I can't give a concrete timeline on that but soonish."

Salmon said during the public housing tour they plan to talk to community members about jobs and career development within cannabis.

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.