Empire CBD once had cannabidiol (CBD) shops spanning across Central New York. But at the end of April, it will be closing its last outlet. While New York recently legalized recreational cannabis and is expected to become one of the largest markets in the country, the handling of its hemp industry makes some worried.
Yardley Burgess, who once operated six Empire CBD outlets, claims the frustration lies in the constantly changing regulations surrounding hemp and CBD. More specifically, he noted that in order to continue operating these outlets, he would have had to purchase a wholesale license.
“I’m tired of having to pivot every few months,” Burgess told Syracuse.com. “Every time they make these changes, they take the profit right out of the company.”
This isn’t the first time Burgess has found himself closing down shop. Previously, he was using delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to drive sales. But when the state banned it, he found himself having to close operations on other stores.
“They [New York] have made several laws to prevent certain hemp products from being available and now they won’t allow quality products to be on the shelf by limiting all products with the requirement of them being grown, produced, and manufactured in NY State,” Burgess wrote in a post on Empire CBD’s website.
New York’s Cannabis Control Board has had discussions about unbanning Delta-8 and -10 once recreational cannabis sales begin. However, it’s unlikely this will matter when that time comes. While it’s only assumption, it’s very likely most delta-8 THC sales are occurring in places where cannabis remains illegal—providing many with a legal “high.”
As of this time, Burgess has a shop opened in Destiny which he hopes to continue operation with until the end of April. He’s offering 70% off on all products in stock and selling delta-8 products before New York’s expected prohibition on April 8.
While Hemp is Down, There’s Some Hope in Marijuana
Due to the decline in the hemp industry, Burgess has set his sights on obtaining a license to sell recreational marijuana. While this seems like a fitting transition, there are some difficulties. Most notably, that licenses will likely not be issued until the end of this year.
New York has discussed how it plans to give out licenses. According to the Cannabis Control Board, those who have convictions for previous marijuana offenses will be given the first shot at licenses. Additionally, a few other groups will also have preference, including disabled military veterans.
Burgess qualifies to be one of the first to obtain a recreational cannabis license. However, he remains hesitant due to the way New York has handled the hemp industry.
“I’d like to [sell recreational cannabis,” he told syracuse.com. “But it all depends on what the state is doing.”
As mentioned, New York is already lagging behind in terms of getting licenses out. Neighboring states Connecticut and New Jersey are both set to open their first marijuana retail shops this year, likely driving many New Yorkers across boundaries to get a taste of legal weed.
However, this won’t be too big a deal once legal sales do begin in New York. Tourism alone will likely skyrocket the state’s industry far beyond neighboring states combined.
The big question is how well is New York going to handle this industry once legalized? The state is expected to have a massive market and with that, there’s a lot at play. If lawmakers don’t set themselves up for a smooth industry, it’s likely others in Burgess’ position will find themselves retiring sales.