In an effort to safeguard New York’s nascent legal market for recreational marijuana, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed legislation on Wednesday that would give police more authority to shut down illicit pot stores and impose fines of up to $200,000.
With only three stores operational in New York City, two in rural New York, and more on the way, New York is seeking to kickstart its potentially large adult legal industry. The growth of unlicensed businesses in the city is undermining the legitimacy of legally operating businesses.
Landlords who have knowingly enabled illegal businesses to operate are already being targeted by city officials.
The state Office of Cannabis Management and state tax officials would be given expanded authority to crack down on unauthorized business under the new legislation currently before the Legislature.
In addition to establishing processes for the government to shut down unauthorized enterprises, the law would also give the cannabis office a broader ability to seize illicit products.
The Hochul administration has said that violators could face fines of up to $200,000 for growing or possessing illegal cannabis and up to $10,000 per day for selling cannabis without a license.
The continued presence of illegal dispensaries is intolerable, and we need more robust enforcement powers to safeguard New Yorkers from potentially harmful goods and bolster our equitable initiatives, Hochul said in a statement.
Since recreational marijuana usage was legalized in New York in March 2021, progress has been modest.
New York is one of a small number of states that have set aside its initial batch of retail licenses exclusively for non-profits, applicants with marijuana offenses, and the relatives of such applicants. The measures are an attempt to rectify the unfairness that has resulted from the drug war.
A federal judge has put a temporary hold on the state’s ability to issue licenses for recreational marijuana dispensaries in Brooklyn and some portions of upstate New York while a legal challenge to the state’s selection process is reviewed.
Companies like Variscite NY One are claiming that the Constitution’s rights for interstate commerce are being violated since the state’s selection procedure gives preference to New York citizens over those from other states.