New York’s Illicit Cannabis Market Could Finally Be Brought Down As Sweeping New Powers Introduced

New York’s Illicit Cannabis Market Could Finally Be Brought Down As Sweeping New Powers Introduced

New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a new plan to ‘finally put an end to the chaos’ of unlicenced shops throughout the state.

On Friday, Hochul laid out a new five-point plan to significantly increase the fight against New York’s thriving illicit cannabis market, after more than a year of civil actions that have failed to make a dent.

Amid growing pressure to clamp down on the state’s thriving illicit market, new rules were introduced last year allowing regulators to impose fines of $10,000 for each day a cannabis business has been operating without a license, rising to $20,000 if they’ve previously received a notice from the OCM.

However, Hochul pointed out, these fines are now seen as just a small cost of doing business for these businesses, who are currently able to continue operating while their often lengthy hearings and appeals ‘drag on’.

Under the new plan, which forms part of the state’s incoming budget, the Office of Cannabis Management will be given the authority to ‘padlock’ businesses immediately following an inspection if they are selling illicit cannabis.

Furthermore, authorities from counties and cities, including New York City, will be authorized to padlock unlicensed businesses, and issue misdemeanor penalties for damaging or removing the padlock.

Next, Hochul took aim at ‘landlords who turn a blind eye to illegal activity’. Now, any landlords who fail to bring forward eviction proceedings against tenants in violation of the law will face a $50,000 fine, or five times the rent from the time the landlord was notified of the violation.

Local counties and cities will also be granted greater powers to dictate their own laws relating to unlicensed businesses, and will be given the power to initiate emergency proceedings against businesses and landlords.

A new statewide task force is also set to be established to ramp up action and close the illegal stores, and target the suppliers of unlicensed cannabis coming into the state.

Finally, the governor plans to change the New York City Administrative Code to allow the city to ‘inspect, issue violations, seize cannabis and padlock stores’.

These changes will also allow the city to conduct administrative hearings within five days of the execution of an emergency padlock order, with a decision provided within four days of the hearing.

It comes amid growing pressure on the state’s cannabis regulators from Hochul, who last month ordered the commissioner for the New York State Office of General Services, Jeanette Moy, to conduct an internal review of the OCM.

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Region: New York

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