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Wayne County man fined $15 million for illegal cannabis business

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In a first of its kind ruling, the Wayne County Supreme Court has ruled a Lyons man must pay $15.2 million in fines for running illicit cannabis businesses.

Supreme Court Judge Richard Healy issued the fines against David Tulley on Thursday. In total, $7 million in fines were handed down as “disgorgement,” or the repayment of the estimated illegal profits that Tulley made from his businesses. An additional $8.2 million in fines were given for ignoring repeated warnings from the state Office of Cannabis Management, or OCM, to cease operating.

State Attorney General Letitia James filed it in November on behalf of the OCM.

“This significant fine sends a clear message to illicit operators that the state will vigorously enforce cannabis regulations to ensure the safety and integrity of the industry,” said Daniel Haughney, the OCM’s director of enforcement. “Our decisive action against unlawful activities demonstrates our commitment to protecting consumers and maintaining a level playing field for legitimate businesses.”

Tulley was never shy about his illegal cannabis operation. Nine shops opened across Monroe, Wayne, Seneca, Oswego, and Cayuga counties under brand names such as I’m Stuck, Empire Express, and Weed Warehouse. The first shops opened in early 2022.

“I had to start this now, because if I didn’t, my family and kids wouldn’t have a chance,” Tulley said, speaking to the Auburn City Council in Dec. 2022, as he prepared to open a new shop in the city. “Now I have seven stores throughout central New York, and I started with $1,000.”

“I didn’t choose to be New York’s number one dispensary,” Tulley continued. “The people of New York did.”

After raids on his businesses kicked off last summer, he gave on-camera media interviews, spoke at length on Facebook Live, organized smoke-filled rallies in his defense, and allegedly called and threatened the director of the OCM.

Tulley did not immediately return a request for comment.

The latter move landed him a charge of second-degree aggravated harassment.

In a statement, James said Tulley is being made an example of.

“Today, David Tulley is paying the $15 million price for his repeated illegal activity and will be permanently banned from the cannabis industry in New York,” James said. “This punishment should serve as a clear warning for all unlicensed cannabis stores in the state: we will enforce the law and shut down your operations.”

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