Illegal cannabis stores are selling ridiculous dosages of THC

There are dozen reasons to hate the illegal weed shops that have sprouted all over the neighborhood. But this weekend I encountered the most dangerous: a friend’s 15-year-old son was able to buy a bag of 100 mg gummies. He ate four of them. He’s okay but not without a hospital visit, a CT scan, an IV to flush some of it out of his system, and a lot of panic.

Some perspective: my husband, who is 6’1″ and eats the occasional gummy, takes 10 mg for the night. New York State regulations for *legal* stores permit 10mg per gummy and 100mg per package. (Other states limit packaging even more. In Massachusetts, the maximum is 40 mg.)

We guessed that the teenager bought them at Jungle from Mars on West Broadway and Warren.  So some friends and I popped in last week to check out the selection.

There are bags and bags of gummies, packaged like the one he had above, that have a total of 2000 or 3000 mgs of THC — enough to get 300 people sufficiently stoned. And they cost next to nothing. The bag we picked out, which had 10 “belts” of 300 mg each, cost $90.

“So can I rent a storefront and sell fireworks?” my friend said as we left Jungle on Mars. “It’s really bizarre. So are we just not going to police things any more?”

I understand the confusion. If Chambers Street Wines or Morgan’s or Puffy’s were operating without a liquor license, how long would they last? A day? We saw it in covid, when illegal night clubs popped up around the city. It didn’t take long for the sheriff or the NYPD to close them down. So why has this become such a challenge? And why are the elected officials all trying to find workarounds, like pursuing the landlords?

All of these stores have giant neon pot leaves and blunts on the front of them, and there’s no mistaking the products inside. They are not even hidden — they are in glass cases or open shelving.

And back to the dosing: since the stores are illegal, they can sell whatever they want. And much of their merchandise is unregulated, unlike that from state-licensed dispensaries where the products are tracked “seed to sale.” If you don’t know any better — for example, if you are a teenager — you might as well get the biggest dose for the best price. And taking those high dosages is not too fun. The Times has a good story here about the health risks for teens, and Harvard Med School has a primer on cannabis dosing here.

The state has other recommendations for a “serving”:

  • If you’re newer to cannabis that may mean starting with 2.5 milligrams.
  • You may have to cut your edible in a half or into quarters to start with or have fewer sips of a beverage rather than taking the entire serving at once. It can take up to two hours to feel the effects of edibles.
  • A higher THC percentage (or more potent product) does not necessarily mean a better cannabis experience. It’s about the product – the terpenes and other cannabinoids (like THC or CBD) present in the product contribute to the overall effect just as much as potency.
 

18 Comments

  1. You have the government you voted for. Congrats . . .

    • ^^^what he said^^^

    • Here’s the issue , you wanna say all these shops are doing is creating health hazards in neighborhoods? Alcohol is still sold to minority under 21 and still going. Cigarettes are sold everywhere and people die from these daily and still being sold everywhere. There are more deaths from either of these and they still continue to kill. Not one person has died from Marijuana, you might over react cause your body is reacting to a foreign Natural substance. Education to all the Ignorant people who just jump to conclusions because The US government made Hemp illegal because of all the benefits from it and all the uses products made from hemp. They couldn’t control the residual profits made from it so they made it a Control 1 substance. Cocaine, Meth and all these other carcinogenic substances kill left and right but are only in your system for 24 hours. These are killing left and right but you can’t monetize that. All of this is going on because they dragging Ass in New York State to implement this cause they wanna control it. Look at Massachusetts they did it after NY and got more shops, more licenses out there and everyone is winning. NY state still making excuses and dragging ass. Marijuana shouldn’t be a Schedule 1 substance….. it’s less likely to kill than Alcohol and or cigarettes. So this lady and her accusations and her article are all wrong. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself first than start spewing.

  2. 1: I’m hoping you reported them to OCM, while they are an proving to be inept, it’s still worth getting on record

    2: Since these are unregulated, the dosage is not exact (making them more dangerous), so some packaging is not truly reflective of the dosages.. Some companies know younger recreational users are wanting a stronger “fun” high and think by showing an increased dosage, they’re more likely to get purchased.. They might or might not be that concentrated (it sounds like in this kid’s case, they just took a lot on top of a higher dosage – glad they’re ok)..

    All in all, The State government and OCM really need to get their act together and shutdown these illegal shops.. Almost countless other states have rolled out recreational dispensaries without the issue and an overrun grey market.. Very very frustrating to see..

    • I’ve reported this illegal shop – Jungle on Mars on West Broadway – via the OCM website at least 30-40 times since they opened in July. They’re still there. And more illegal shops are opening every day in the neighborhood.

  3. I find it crazy that the city spent an hour checking every nook and cranny in my store not too long ago, and I get a monetary violation for an exit light battery being out. Yet all these illegal cannabis stores have no issues.

    • The city or state could have all these shops shut down in a day if they wanted to, and they did exactly that when a store across from City Hall was becoming a political embarrassment. New York is currently run by criminals for criminals.

      • Reademan, I couldn’t agree more!

      • Why isn’t the NYPD involved?

        • For the same reason they aren’t stopping any crime, they have been handcuffed by the politicians.

        • Money has nothing to do with it. The police are told what they can and can’t do by City Hall, they don’t operate independently. Until recently, the police were told not to harass all the counterfeiters on Canal Street, even though it was blatant organized crime. In the last few weeks, some connected group must have told City Hall to do something about it, and all of a sudden the police are doing daily sweeps and literally confiscating hundreds of millions of counterfeit goods.

  4. Ha!!! Hate to tell ya, but I told you so! Just waiting for the undesirables to start taking over this neighborhood. Wish they would get rid of the illegal weed shop next to 16 handles. They finally took down the shedding to prevent the Amazon workers and BMCC students from lighting up and becoming a nuisance to the kiddies with their parents and nannies. But fear not they just need to go up to Church street where there is 6 illegal weed spots on the same blaock, well actually 3 across the street from each other and around the corner and 1 of them is a smoke shop that has been there for YEARS… no issue with the exception of occasional robberies). The other day I saw a bunch of teenage kids flocking over the big bright weed shop Mr. Exotic that sells (wink wink) exotic snacks from Japan and Thailand. There has to be an easier way to report. I tried reporting on the form they gave… I rather take the SAT then fill out that confusing long form. The form should just ask for name, address of establishment and what you have observed.

  5. Suspected violations or complaints for Illegal Cannabis stores can be reported online at:
    https://cannabis.ny.gov/report-an-incident
    Whenever possible please include the following information when submitting a complaint:
    • Name of business
    • Time of alleged illicit activity
    • Location of alleged illicit activity
    • Pictures of alleged illicit activity
    • Indicate if there has been previous police contact (i.e., 911 calls)
    • Proximity to sensitive use locations (e.g., school, house of worship)
    • Contact information of the person reporting the alleged illicit activity (i.e., phone number in case there are follow up questions).

    Illegal Tobacco Stores need to be reported to 311. Most of the pop up stores sell both so report to both places.

  6. Great article and thanks your all for thoughts on this serious issue. Yes children are going to the emergency rooms. Amongst community members we have been discussing the issue for sometime. The pot being sold in legal and illegal stores is toxic. Not my words but famed neuroscientists. Gummies, my gosh, we are poisoning our children. More to come. Not hesitant to share my thoughts publicly
    Bob Townley
    Founder and Executive Director Manhattan Youth

  7. The person who wrote this article is poorly informed on the effects of cannabis on individuals. The effects of cannabis edibles are drastically affected by each individual’s own body. It has absolutely nothing to do with how much you weigh, or how tall you are, but rather how your body breaks down the edible.

    I know a very large gentleman who can only handle 10 mg, but I also know a 5-ft tall petite lady who can eat 600 mg and you wouldn’t even know.

    That being said do away with the illegal cannabis stores, those are never good. It would probably be beneficial for the articles author to visit a legal recreational state and speak with a few bud tenders about what cannabis use really looks like. You could have made all the same points in your article without resorting to disinformation and hyperbole.

  8. Call state senator Brian Kavanaugh’s office to complain. The state is responsible for the OCM: 212-298-5565

    Call NY city council rep Christopher Marte’s office regarding local issues and quality of life: 212-587-3159

    Call public advocate Jumaane Williams office: 212-669-7250

    Call Manhattan borough president Mark Levine: 212-669-8300

    If they hear enough complaints, particularly on the state level, they will do something. Kavanaugh (with assembly member Grace Lee) has also publicly stated that he is very much against the proliferation of illegal shops.

  9. I spoke to a staff intern in Senator Kavanaugh’s office today and he said that they have been identifying illegal cannabis shops (across the city) based on OCM reports and other tips and sending the landlords of those shops letters warning them that they could be subject to $10K+ fines for renting to such shops. I don’t believe they’ve involved law enforcement yet, but the landlord for Jungle on Mars (88 West Broadway) was sent a letter this week. 88 West Broadway went condo in January 2023. Its sponsor was a B Jaffe-related real estate company called 6R Tribeca Owner 2021 LLC. As of August, however, none of the residential condo units had yet been sold.

    Senator Kavanaugh’s office is at 212-298-5565 if you’d like to lend your voice to the effort to have Jungle on Mars closed.

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