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CNY wedding venue owner pushing back after state wrongly accuses her of selling weed

LakeWatch Inn owner Nicole Reynolds poses on the balcony of her Ithaca wedding venue.
Brad Racino
NY Cannabis Insider
LakeWatch Inn owner Nicole Reynolds poses on the balcony of her Ithaca wedding venue.

The LakeWatch Inn in Ithaca hosts dozens of events—from weddings to class reunions and dances—each year. But one event that the Cayuga Lake property hasn't hosted is marijuana sales, so owner Nicole Reynolds said she was shocked to learn the state branded her as an illegal seller.

"We're just a small business. I'm just trying to regroup after this nonsense," Reynolds said.

The New York Office of Cannabis Management, or OCM, recently identified dozens of businesses, including LakeWatch Inn, it claims are illegally selling or gifting marijuana. The agency is cracking down on so-called gray markets as it works to set up a legal marijuana marketplace, but an investigation by New York Cannabis Insider found found Reynolds was wrongly accused.

The OCM outed these establishments by releasing the cease and desist letters it sent to locations it claims are illegally selling marijuana. Chris Alexander, the executive director of OCM, has said the letters are warnings for those getting ahead of the legal market.

"The letters explain that while cannabis has been legalized for those age 21 and over, selling it requires a license under law," Alexander said at a meeting earlier this year.

The state has not yet issued any retail licenses.

Though LakeWatch was on OCM's cease and desist list, Reynolds said she never received a letter — and has never hosted illegal sales. A company last year did book her venue for an informational cannabis event. But once she learned the client planned to distribute marijuana, she shut it down before it began.

New York Cannabis Insider found OCM's evidence against Reynolds came from social media and a news article promoting the event before it was canceled. Reynolds has been contacting OCM to fix her reputation, even enlisting the county sheriff to write a letter to the agency on her behalf, but she hasn't received a response, and she said clients have been calling her about it.

“I’m being accused of doing something illegal, and I'm getting no response back from the organization who's labeled me that way," Reynolds said.

The Office of Cannabis Management has not responded to NY Cannabis Insider about Reynold's case.

Brad Racino is the editor and publisher of's New York Cannabis Insider.