NY Gov. Asks Sites To Stop Listing Illegal Cannabis Stores

Unlicensed pot stores have mushroomed throughout New York City since the state legalized marijuana in 2021, with minimal resistance from authorities. On Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul asked online map and social media businesses to remove their listings.

Hochul promised eight months ago that she would crack down, but nothing has changed.

New York’s legal marijuana stores pay a vice tax, source their product from nearby farms, and undergo quality control testing to guarantee their product is pure and not adulterated in any way.

However, due to lawsuits and stringent eligibility standards, the rollout of licensed cannabis businesses has been slowed to fewer than 80 locations around the state. On the other hand, a dozen illegal ones can be found in just one New York City area.

New York’s legalization of marijuana does not permit the majority of law enforcement agencies to enforce pot laws and does not include harsh criminal punishment for illicit sales to prevent a recurrence of the criminalization of drug sales during the prohibition era.

According to a bill that Hochul signed into law last May, the state now has the authority to conduct inspections, seize property, penalize businesses up to $20,000 per day, shut down businesses, and pursue landlords.

On Wednesday, though, the governor said she knows it wasn’t sufficient. As she pointed out, the appeals process takes months, so stores may keep making tax-free profits off of cheaper illegal products since they can be bought out of state.

Additionally, the fines aren’t hefty enough to discourage individuals.

Even though the city of New York has taken action against landlords to slow the tide, Mayor Eric Adams has been pleading with Albany to give the city additional firepower.

While the appeals process is underway, Hochul has urged the Democrat-controlled state legislature to enact new laws that would empower city authorities with more extraordinary enforcement powers, raise fines, and authorize the closure of illegal enterprises.

Google Maps continues to remove legal shops, according to local cannabis entrepreneur Osbert Orduña. He said he would like to see the site, including Yelp,  remove unlawful operators as well.