New York Shuts Down Private Cannabis Lounge in Cheektowaga

New York officials shut down a private cannabis consumption club in Cheektowaga for operating without a license but the company says no license exists for its business model.

Full story after the jump.

New York officials last week shut down a private club in Cheektowaga that allowed on-site cannabis consumption for operating without a cannabis license. John Averill, the CEO of Roaring 420s Lounge, told News 7 that there is no license for his business model and that they do not sell cannabis at the club. 

Averill said the cannabis products are donated to the club and that members, who must be at least 21 years old, can sample products while on site but are not allowed to leave with any cannabis products. 

Averill shared the Notice of Permit Revocation from the town on Instagram; the notice says town officials “received new guidance from the NY Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management” indicating the business was “operating without a cannabis license, and is therefore operating illegally.” 

“By the order of the Supervising Code Enforcement Officer, your permits have been revoked, and you are ordered to Cease and Desist all operations at the above-mentioned premises,” the notice, which is signed by the fire inspector, states.

The Instagram post shows a handwritten letter, presumably written by Averill, that says the business is “temporarily closed, due to assholes like this” with an arrow pointing to the notice.    

Averill told News7 that the owners test for strain, potency, and safety at local labs, and the leftover product goes to members who fill out a survey and that data goes back to the vendors. He said, through this process, the business has “removed 12 different products that were completely unsafe for human consumption from circulation.” 

He describes the business as a legitimate market research company.  

“People are surprised with how different it is than a standard bar. People assume our business model is false – that we are claiming to be a market research company, but it’s really an excuse to get around consumption site licensing. The fact of the matter is that’s not the case.” — Averill to News7

The Office of Cannabis Management did not provide comment to News7 on the business. 

On Sunday, Averill launched a petition seeking to get the lounge’s permit reinstated, saying the town’s action was “a misguided attempt to eliminate illegal cannabis businesses from the Town of Cheektowaga.”  

“The claim by the Town Fire Inspector is that a market research company studying cannabis products requires a license from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management,” Averill wrote. “There is no such license category, nor is one intended. In it’s (sic) current form, the business model of our trade association does not in any fashion sell Cannabis and thus this unsubstantiated allegation is patently false.” 

The petition is seeking 500 signatories.

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Industry perspectives on this story:

The State of NY does have 'sampling agent' positions. The individuals sampling must go through a certification process and are compensated for their work. It seems like Averill's business plan is something NY wants to be more state controlled. I would expect to see these types of 'sampling' facilities showing up as contracted work through the state.

Rosanna St.John - Owner, Canna Bookkeeper LLC

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