Wagswoofs – In a recent crackdown on unlicensed storefronts, Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration has made a significant seizure of over 11,000 pounds of illegally sold cannabis products. The confiscated goods have an estimated value of over $54 million. This successful operation highlights the ongoing efforts to combat the illegal cannabis market and ensure public safety.
The Office of Cannabis Management announced that the state achieved a significant victory in a court case on November 21st. This victory will streamline the process of shutting down and permanently closing illegally operated marijuana stores in the future.
In just the past month, authorities discovered and confiscated a staggering amount of illegal substances. This included a whopping 812 pounds of flower, 701 pounds of edibles, and 61 pounds of cannabis concentrate, which were estimated to be worth a staggering $7.3 million.
In the past year, a total of 350 locations underwent inspections, with 88 of them being re-inspected. These inspections resulted in the discovery of a substantial amount of marijuana, weighing around 11,000 pounds and estimated to be worth $54 million.
Chris Alexander, the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, emphasized the importance of safety as New York’s cannabis market enters its next phase. He stated, “We are committed to shutting down illegal operators to ensure the well-being of our community.”
“The key solution to tackle the issue of these illegal shops lies in promoting the establishment of more legal businesses. Citizens of New York have a genuine desire to have clarity about the sources of their products, and they understand the importance of accessing secure, reliable, and locally cultivated cannabis when they visit authorized dispensaries.”
In the spring, Hochul and the legislature took action by passing a law to increase penalties for unlicensed operators in New York City. According to Mayor Eric Adams and Sheriff Anthony Miranda, there are as many as 1,500 of these operators.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers overlooked the issue of effectively cracking down on illegal operators when they passed the law to legalize the adult use and sale of marijuana in 2021. As a result, a thriving black market emerged even before the legal market could establish itself.
The penalties for selling cannabis illegally have been significantly increased. Offenders can now face fines starting at $10,000 per day, which can escalate to a maximum of $20,000 per day for persistent and severe violations. Moreover, additional fines may be imposed as deemed necessary.
Regulators have the authority to seek a court order to ultimately shut down businesses that repeatedly violate the law.
Selling cannabis and cannabis products without a license is now a criminal offense under the law.
There are currently 27 licensed adult-use cannabis dispensaries in the state of New York, with 12 of them situated in the city.
Regulators have also given their approval to 44 Cannabis Growers Showcases, which are essentially farmers markets where various marijuana products are sold.
Frustrated cannabis industry licensees and applicants have expressed their dissatisfaction with the slow and challenging implementation process, which has been hindered, in part, by legal disputes.
A total of 426 licensees were affected by the lawsuits, causing frustration among farmers who now find themselves burdened with large quantities of unsellable marijuana plants.
The Hochul administration and cannabis control board recently resolved a discrimination lawsuit that claimed the state had a preference for granting licenses to sell legal marijuana to convicted pot felons rather than disabled veterans.
In August, a court injunction was issued that blocked new licensing and store openings, resulting in a state of legal uncertainty for the cannabis industry.
State regulators are anticipated to accelerate the process of approving and opening new licensed cannabis shops in the upcoming months, now that the legal issues have been resolved.