CAZENOVIA — On Thursday, Oct. 13, a search warrant was executed on the Happy Mart convenience store at 63 Albany St. following a three-week-long investigation into the sale of illegal THC products.
THC, which stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance that is primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state.
The search warrant was issued by Village Justice D. Christian Fischer and executed by the Village of Cazenovia Police Department.
According to an Oct. 13 press release from the Cazenovia Police, the department received information that “look-alike products” were being sold at the store.
“The look-alike products are products like gummies or cookies that contain high levels of THC and are packaged to look like a safe product,” explained Chief of Police Michael Hayes.
The chief provided the example of Trips Ahoy! cookies, which are packaged to closely resemble the Chips Ahoy! brand.
Happy Mart does not have a license to sell cannabis products. Further, the Village of Cazenovia Board of Trustees voted on July 1, 2021 to opt out of licensing and establishing cannabis retail dispensaries and cannabis on-site consumption establishments within its boundaries. Therefore, even after New York State begins to issue licenses — which it has not yet done — none will be issued for the Village of Cazenovia.
“As we’ve said, there are currently no legal sales of adult-use cannabis in New York State, and any storefront that jumps ahead of the process will be shut down and risk losing the opportunity to operate in the legal industry,” said Daniel Haughney, director of investigations/enforcement for the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, in the press release. “We’re thankful for our partnership with the Cazenovia Police Department, which shut down the illicit sales at this storefront. All others should be on notice: illicit sales by unlicensed stores will not be tolerated.”
Hayes stated that he agrees fully with the Office of Cannabis Management.
“The village board, after much debate and public hearings, made their decision and we are a country of laws,” Hayes said. “Those laws need to be followed. I want to thank all of the agencies and the village board for [their] assistance in this investigation. I believe this is the first type of police action of this kind in New York State.”
The chief reported that Happy Mart was not closed on Oct. 13; it was shut down temporarily to allow for the proper execution of the search warrant. All illegal products were seized, pursuant to the search warrant, and will be processed and sent to the New York State Police Crime Laboratory for testing to determine what criminal charges will be filed.
The Cazenovia Police Department conducted its investigation with assistance from the Office of Cannabis Management, the New York State Liquor Authority, the Madison County Department of Health, and the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, and with full support from Mayor Kurt Wheeler and the village board.
“The chief shared evidence of illegal activity with the board, and we fully support the efforts of our department and all of the other involved agencies to keep our community safe,” said Wheeler on Oct. 13. “We were particularly concerned with the presence of products that looked like candy but that may contain dangerous levels of THC. A child could consume these products by mistake and be endangered. The bottom [line] is that no one in New York State has been issued a license to sell cannabis products. The success of New York’s cannabis legalization regime depends upon the permit process being strictly enforced to ensure public safety and generate the revenue predicted by the legislature. I am hopeful that the state will quickly develop mechanisms to enforce the law itself, but when illegal activity threatens the safety of local residents, especially children, municipalities may have to take action themselves, as our police department did today.”
For more information on the Village of Cazenovia Police Department, visit villageofcazenovia.com/police/.