A legal Vermont cannabis grower just got hit with tens of thousands of dollars in fines after he outed himself making an illegal weed delivery on Instagram.
The Vermont Cannabis Control Board (CCB) fined licensed cannabis farmer Devon Deyhle for delivering legally-grown weed to an illegal pot shop in New York City. Deyhle’s small-scale cannabis cultivation business, Tall Truck, is licensed to grow up to 1,000 square feet of legal weed for Vermont's regulated adult-use market. But according to the CCB, Deyhle violated the terms of that license by selling his weed to an unlicensed store in another state.
Late last year, Deyhle reportedly boxed up a hefty package of legal weed and drove it across the border into New York. Transporting cannabis across state lines is a federal offense, but since weed is legal in both states, his chances of getting caught were pretty low. Deyhle managed to get busted anyway, though, because he broadcast his crime to the whole world on Instagram. The pot farmer posted a video of himself walking into a cannabis shop in Manhattan and handing over a box of weed clearly emblazoned with his company's logo.
“It was pretty much a publicity stunt about me potentially opening up the market in New York City for Tall Truck,” said Deyhle to VTDigger. “I guess I pushed the limits a little bit.”
Deyhle posted the video last December, before New York issued any of its adult-use dispensary licenses. This oversight made it obvious that he was delivering his goods to an illegal store, and a watchful viewer quickly reported it to the CCB. After a brief investigation, the board fined Tall Truck $20,000 and suspended the company's license for 60 days. The CCB also tacked on an additional $20k in fines, but Deyhle can avoid these additional punishments if he adheres to the state's regulations for the next two years.
The fines and suspension are “a killer for someone like me,” Deyhle told VTDigger. “It was a great, great video, but it wasn’t worth it. That’s for sure.”
The glacial rollout of New York's adult-use industry has helped create a thriving black market that out-of-state weed growers like Deyhle are more than willing to supply. The Empire State legalized weed two years ago, but has only managed to open a half-dozen legal dispensaries since then. That huge delay gave illicit dealers plenty of time to step in and meet the massive demand for weed themselves. New York City now boasts well over 1,400 illegal pot shops, and thousands more have opened all over the state.
Many of these shops are selling illegally-grown weed, but recent studies have reported that nearly half of these products are tainted with E. coli, heavy metals, and other toxic contaminants. This grim news boosted the demand for legal, quality-assured products, but New York's cannabis industry still isn't mature enough to supply the quantity of weed that New Yorkers want to smoke. So once again, illicit dealers stepped up to fill the void by importing legal products from California, Vermont, and other adult-use states.