Efforts to Shut Down Illicit Cannabis Activity Will Support New York’s Growing Industry and Benefit the Legal, Equitable Market.

Governor Kathy Hochul today was joined by representatives of New York’s legal cannabis retailers, including Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees, to announce the State’s steps forward in shutting down the illegal cannabis market. Unlicensed cannabis businesses have continued to open and operate throughout the state, often selling untested product and creating nuisances in communities. Further, these storefronts have stymied the growth of New York’s legal industry and the retailers operating therein. 

“New York must take action to close illicit cannabis storefronts continuing to open and operate across the State,” Governor Hochul said. “Strengthening New York’s equitable cannabis industry and protecting the hard-working small business owners operating in the legal market are top priorities, and the best way to accomplish those goals is by expediting the shutdown of unlicensed shops.” 

Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget includes a plan to broaden the authority of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and local government agencies to padlock stores selling cannabis without a license. This proposal will strengthen enforcement authority, expedite the closure of unlicensed shops, and deter illicit activity. The plan:

  • Expands the powers of OCM to streamline padlocking of illicit shops. 

  • Authorizes local government to execute OCM padlock orders to ensure swift action to close unlicensed dispensaries. 

  • Establishes local registries of licensed cannabis businesses to assist and empower local governments, including New York City, to padlock unlicensed businesses through their own laws and resources. 

Governor Hochul was joined by several members of the State’s CAURD program who expressed the urgent need to shut down illegal cannabis operators. CAURD licensees were the first retail dispensaries to open for legal adult-use cannabis sales in New York State, establishing businesses owned by justice-involved individuals as the bedrock of New York’s adult-use cannabis market. 

In addition, social media and big tech companies have aided in the promotion of unlicensed stores and have knowingly allowed illegal storefronts to advertise online, undermining New York’s efforts to build a safe and equitable cannabis industry. As part of her announcement, Governor Hochul is calling on tech companies to prohibit the promotion of unlicensed storefronts selling potentially dangerous products on their platforms.

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “New York state leads the nation in its commitment to equity in cannabis. To protect what we are building, we have to make sure that our legal dispensaries have a real shot to thrive against illicit operators. I want to thank Governor Hochul, and our partners across the state for the steadfast commitment to getting this right. The stakes are too high and it’s time we close down these illicit shops, and hold tech companies accountable.”

The Cannabis Place Chief Executive Officer Osbert Orduna said, “Together, we can send a powerful message that unlicensed cannabis stores have no place in our communities, and that we are committed to upholding the rule of law and protecting the safety and welfare of all New Yorkers. It is imperative for the legislature, regulatory agencies, and local governments to work collaboratively to ensure the integrity and success of New York’s cannabis market. I would like to thank the many advocates, legislators, the OCM and the Governor for their combined efforts to build a legal, safe, regulated market for consumers with true social and economic equity.”

ConBud Co-Owner Alfredo Angueira said, “The economic impact of the illicit cannabis market extends far beyond our upstate farmers and legal dispensaries, affecting the quality of life for all our New York State residents. From lost tax revenues to diminished investment opportunities, the presence of illicit operators siphons away tax dollars dedicated to the communities the legal dispensaries are located in and taking valuable resources from our communities, stifling growth and prosperity. The fight against the illicit cannabis market is a fight for the future of our communities and our economy. By working together to root out illicit operators, support local farmers, and promote responsible regulation, we can build a stronger, safer, and more equitable cannabis industry for generations to come.”

Latino Cannabis Association Vice President Sandra Jaquez said, “Our association supports Governor Hochul’s proposal to take decisive action against these illegal operations to protect consumers, support lawful businesses, and uphold the integrity of our burgeoning cannabis industry, and we urge lawmakers to support the plan as well.


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