Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and regulators raided seven unlicensed cannabis shops in Manhattan, shocking the city and sending a message that illicit operations won’t be tolerated. The Office of Cannabis Management and Tax Department seized all marijuana and THC-infused products from these stores, issuing notices of violation and orders to cease unlicensed activity.
This is the first such enforcement action taken under the recently approved law authorizing stricter enforcement of unlicensed cannabis businesses with fines worth thousands a day.
Until recently, the punishment for possessing more than three ounces of marijuana or selling any was only a mere $125 fine. With these raids, New York regulators see this as a beginning and essential step in protecting those individuals who were promised a shot at starting their own legal business and providing funds for the social equity fund. The state has been criticized for its slow and rocky rollout of New York’s legal cannabis program, leading to a price disadvantage for licensed stores. In order to combat this black market, New York should first focus on creating new legal retail licenses instead of raiding unlicensed operations.
The seven shops raided by NY Gov. Kathy Hochul and regulators include
- Varieties on Broadway
- Roll 2 Nation
- Baby Jeeter
- Maze 16 St Marks Place
- LaGuardia Smoke
- Play Lane
Punishments Facing the Unlicensed Retail
The punishments facing the illegal operators of these seven cannabis shops raided by NY Gov. Kathy Hochul and regulators are as follows: each store has been served notices of violation indicating they were selling illicit products, once the violations are confirmed upon administrative hearing process, each shop faces up to a $10,000 fine per day plus penalties for their illegal activity.
In extreme cases involving criminal activity, fines can be up to $20,000/day. Furthermore, if the illegal stores fail to stop selling cannabis products after being notified by OCM or other state agencies responsible for enforcement, legal action may follow, including petitioning of state Supreme Court to ultimately close down the business permanently. This sends a strong message that there are severe repercussions for selling unlicensed cannabis in New York.
All marijuana and THC products have been seized from these stores, indicating that the state is serious about enforcing those operating without a license. These strict punitive measures will likely help deter other illegal operators from setting up shop in the future. It also indicates that more legal licenses must be made available so that individuals wishing to enter the legitimate market can do so easily.
Criticism of Slow and Rocky Rollout of NY’s Legal Cannabis Program
The raid of these seven unlicensed cannabis shops in Manhattan has been met with criticism from the cannabis industry, as it is seen as a result of the state’s slow and rocky rollout of New York’s legal cannabis program. While illegal shops have flourished due to limited access to licenses, licensed stores are at an immediate price disadvantage due to high taxes.
Furthermore, only 24 retail locations are currently open across the state, and many are reporting difficulty obtaining products for sale due to limited availability. It is clear that more needs to be done for New York’s legal cannabis program to truly take off, and creating new legal retail licenses should be the first step towards achieving this goal instead of raiding unlicensed operations.
In conclusion, the raiding of seven unlicensed cannabis shops by NY Gov. Kathy Hochul and regulators is a much-needed step towards protecting those individuals who were promised a shot at starting their own legal business and providing funds for the social equity fund.
However, to truly combat the black market, New York should first focus on creating new legal retail licenses instead of raiding unlicensed operations. This will help ensure that licensed stores can compete effectively against illegal operators and provide access to quality products for consumers. Only then can New York fully realize its potential to become a leader in the cannabis industry.
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