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New York Cannabis Enforcement Task Force Shuts Down Over 100 Illegal Cannabis Stores Says Governor Hochul

The New York State Cannabis Enforcement Task Force has been making headlines for its recent crackdown on “illegal” cannabis storefronts. In a press release last week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that this initiative has shut down hundreds of unlicensed stores, which she says has led to a significant surge in legal cannabis sales.

The Rise of Illegal Cannabis Storefronts in New York

Illegal cannabis storefronts have become a significant issue in New York, with initial estimates suggesting their numbers reach into the thousands statewide. These unlicensed shops lawmakers are arguing not only undermine the legal market but also pose risks to consumers.

They argue without proper regulation, products from these stores can be unsafe and of questionable quality. The proliferation of these operations has prompted state authorities to take decisive action.

“We are committed to building the strongest, most equitable cannabis market in the nation,” Governor Hochul said“In order to advance that goal, we promised to expedite the closure of unlicensed cannabis storefronts, and I’m here today to say: we’re getting it done.”

Governor Hochul has been vocal about her commitment to building a robust and equitable cannabis market in New York. However, this commitment has been far from realized.

The slow rollout of legal retail licenses has been a saga of several lawsuits slowing it down, allowing large MSOs earlier-than-expected entry into the market, which in turn left many smaller cannabis companies struggling with products not being able to sell.

In an effort to achieve this and give smaller legal companies a chance to compete, she launched a series of initiatives aimed at shutting down illegal cannabis operations. This culminated in the formation of the Cannabis Enforcement Task Force, which launched on May 21st of this year.

New York Cannabis Enforcement Task Force

he Cannabis Enforcement Task Force, a collaboration between the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), State Police, and other state agencies, has been working these to close illegal dispensaries. They work closely with landlords to evict illegal dispensaries and penalize those who fail to take action against tenants operating unlawfully.

In just three weeks since its launch from when Gov Hochul held her press release, the task force has shut down 114 unlicensed stores and seized over $29 million worth of illegal products.

The crackdown on illegal storefronts has had a positive impact on the legal cannabis market, says Hochul. Reports cited from the press release show that legal retailers in areas targeted by the task force have seen a 27 percent increase in sales from the first week of May to the first week of June. This is a significant jump, nearly seven times higher than the previous month-over-month data.

“For too long, illegal cannabis shops have contributed to a feeling that anything goes on our streets, but not anymore. After working with Governor Hochul and our partners in Albany to give local municipalities the power we needed to weed out this illegal activity, we launched ‘Operation Padlock to Protect,’ which is already seeing stunning results. said New York City Mayor Eric Adams “In a matter of weeks, we have shut down nearly 400 smoke shops, seized $13.3 million in illegal products, and imposed more than $30 million in fines and penalties. Our work will protect children, keep our streets safe, and contribute to the thriving legal market that New York deserves.”

Relief for New York Farmers

In other recent New York cannabis news, Senate Bill S9679 is looking to make the Cannabis Growers Showcase a permanent fixture. This initiative has been instrumental in helping smaller cannabis companies that have faced challenges due to the slow rollout of retail licenses.

By allowing direct sales and fostering consumer education, the CGS program has provided a much-needed lifeline to cultivators struggling to get their products onto retail shelves. The proposed legislation will enable the OCM to draft new regulations, ensuring the long-term viability and success of the program, and continuing to support the growth and sustainability of New York’s cannabis industry.

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