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Unlicensed weed sold in NYC tainted with E. coli, lead and salmonella

About 40% of cannabis products sold at unlicensed storefronts in New York City contained bacteria, heavy metals and pesticides, finds a recently released report.

Marijuana, edibles and vaporizers purchased from 20 illicit shops in August were tested and found to contain varying levels of eight contaminants, including E. coli, salmonella, nickel and lead, according to the report commissioned by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, a state trade group.

One of the products held twice the stated amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to the association, which represents licensed medical dispensary operators in New York. 

Nine of a total of 40 items tested contained less THC than advertised, but one gummy with a label claiming a potency of 100 milligrams of THC for each piece was actually double the amount, the analysis found.

All of the products tested did not meet branding rules proposed by New York state, which issued more than 30 licenses for retail legal cannabis dispensaries on November 21. Legal sales of recreational cannabis are expected to start this month. As things currently stand, cannabis can only be purchased legally at 38 medical dispensaries across the state.

"Just as the Empire State is poised to achieve that significant goal, new illicit operators have sprung up, latching on to the coattails of the respected pre-existing legacy market and threatening both public health and safety and the long-term success of legal operators," the association stated in its findings released on Wednesday. "These bad actors present a clear danger that could undermine both the budding industry and the health of New York residents and visitors."

The Office of Cannabis Management, the agency in charge of the market rollout, has sent cease-and-desist letters to illicit operations across the state, explaining that while cannabis is now legal for those 21 and older, one still needs a license to sell it legally.

  • Marijuana
  • Cannabis
  • Recreational Marijuana

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