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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

New York governor unveils plan to deal with illegal pot shops

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday unveiled new legislation to combat the continuation of illegal cannabis growers in the state. The bill, which already has the support of dozens of lawmakers in New York’s Senate and State House, also provides increased power to regulators including the Office of Cannabis Administration and the Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce regulations and close stores involved in illegal cannabis sales.

“Over the past several weeks, I have been working with the legislature on new legislation to improve New York’s regulatory structure for hemp products,” he said. Hochul said In a statement from the governor’s office. “The continued existence of illegal dispensaries is unacceptable, and we need additional enforcement tools to protect New Yorkers from dangerous products and support our equity initiatives.”

New York legalized recreational recreational weed in 2021

New York legalized adult use of cannabis in 2021 and the first recreational marijuana dispensary opened its doors in Manhattan late last year. But so far, only four conditional adult use retailers (CAURD) have opened statewide. Meanwhile, the number of unlicensed pot stores has skyrocketed, prompting licensed operators in the nascent cannabis industry and others to pressure state officials to take action against illegal operators.

under proposed legislation declared before Hochul On Wednesday, New York’s tax and cannabis laws will be amended to enable the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) and local law enforcement agencies to impose restrictions on unlicensed storefront dispensaries. The legislation does not introduce new penalties for possession of cannabis for an individual’s personal use and does not allow local law enforcement officials to perform marijuana enforcement actions against individuals.

“This legislation will, for the first time, allow OCM and DTF to crack down on unlicensed activities, protect New Yorkers, and ensure the success of new New York cannabis businesses,” the governor’s office wrote. “The legislation will restructure existing illicit cannabis penalties to give DTF peace officers the power to enforce the law, create a manageable, credible and fair enforcement system, and impose new penalties on retailers who evade government cannabis taxes.”

The bill clarifies and expands OCM’s authority to seize illicit cannabis products, establishes summary procedures for OCM and other government agencies to shut down unlicensed businesses, and creates a framework for more effective collaborative efforts between agencies.

Violations of the law can result in fines of $200,000 for illegal cannabis plants or products. The legislation also allows OCM to fine up to $10,000 per day for participating in cannabis sales without a state license.

Eliot Choi, chief knowledge officer of cannabis and drug legal firm Vicente LLP, has praised the use of financial penalties rather than imprisonment to help control the illegal cannabis market in New York.

Choi wrote in an email to: High times. “We advocate the use of fines rather than incarceration to avoid re-criminalization and bring back anything resembling the previous failed war on drugs.”

In addition to fines for unlicensed cannabis operators, Choi said penalizing landlords who lease unlicensed businesses would also be an appropriate tool for state cannabis regulators, and called for increased funding for state agencies tasked with controlling underground operators.

“Landlords should have no incentives to hire illegal operators and should be financially punished for doing so,” Choi said. “Finally, both OCM and the Ministry of Taxation and Finance need additional resources for implementation as OCM already has enough on its plate to obtain final regulations and issue corresponding licenses in a timely manner.”

Grow guide for marijuana beginners.
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