'Dispensary Bus' stirs controversy for 'gifting' marijuana products in the Hudson Valley

Police and deputies impounded the bus earlier this week.

Ben Nandy

Feb 28, 2024, 11:45 PM

Updated 91 days ago


Operators of a roving cannabis operation – The Dispensary Bus – have angered Hudson Valley public officials and business owners because of a cannabis business model that New York does not permit.
Police and deputies impounded the green bus earlier this week.
East Fishkill police wrote in a press release the driver was taken into custody after he was caught illegally selling cannabis out of the back of the bus, which did not have the proper business licenses and permits.
The Dispensary Bus also does not have a state-issued license to sell recreational cannabis.
In a social media post including video of the bus being taken away on a flatbed, a man is heard laughing.
The operators said they hope to get the bus back soon.
They describe their business model on YouTube and on their website: They sell legal items out of the bus, provide education about the cannabis industry, and give cannabis products away solely as gifts.
In one post connected to the business, one person wrote that anyone who wrote a positive review about The Dispensary Bus would receive a free eighth-ounce of cannabis.
After the outcry in East Fishkill, some elected officials have been trying to step up pressure on the bus operators.
The State Office of Cannabis Management has previously sent cease-and-desist letters to unlicensed businesses who have employed similar gifting models, stating that both the office's policy and state law prohibit businesses from gifting cannabis to customers.
Dispensary Bus owner Robert Coyle would not characterize the practice as gifting and was unclear as to why he started the business.
"I was thinking that eventually, I could talk my way into [a license] or prove myself," he said when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, "but I wasn't just going to be at the mercy of the state, like all these other people seem to be."
The other people include hundreds of dispensary owners who were awarded licenses under the state's social justice licensing system but were blocked from operating for several months because of a lawsuit.
"It seems to be underhanded here," Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone said in an interview outside the business's storefront on Snoop Street.
Cardone said that because of some complaints, officials from his building department visited the Snoop Street location.
"They basically said they're not doing that out here, is what our building inspector had reported to us," Cardone said, adding that the town is going to continue monitoring the business and keep eyes out for the bus.
Hudson Valley Assemblyman AJ Beephan recently wrote to the OCM asking the agency to investigate the Dispensary Bus, which he described as "unbecoming of a legal business owner and in violation of state and local laws."
The OCM has not responded to News 12's requests for comment for this story.

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