New Moves by NYC Lawmakers to Combat Unlicensed Cannabis Outlets

Key Takeaways:

– New legislation aimed at dealing with an estimated 2,500 unlicensed cannabis stores in NYC is being reintroduced.
– State lawmakers are seeking a state budget provision that would expand the city’s power to enforce fair practices on illegal cannabis businesses.
– The city’s use of the nuisance abatement law could be a novel approach to address this issue.
– The Mayor and the Governor are backing efforts to more effectively regulate the cannabis market.

As part of an effort to rein in an estimated 2,500 unlicensed cannabis stores in New York City, lawmakers are initiating fresh drives. The steps initiated on Friday mark yet another attempt in a largely uphill struggle to regulate the burgeoning cannabis market.

Greater Enforcement Powers Sought Through State Budget Provision

Two state legislators gathered at City Hall, hoping to secure a state budget provision that would expand the city’s power to enforce regulations on non-compliant pot stores. Simultaneously, a city lawmaker has committed to reintroducing a plan allowing the illicit stores to be dealt with under the city’s longstanding nuisance abatement law.

City Councilman Keith Powers, who leads the city-level plan, is prepared for the initiative to be presented again next week. The use of the nuisance abatement law is a pioneering solution to deal with unlicensed cannabis operations. Originally, this law was designed to curb brothels around Times Square before broadening to target drug dens and alcohol stores selling to minors.

Despite garnering more than 22 sponsors in the 51-member chamber when it was initially introduced in November, the bill needs reintroduction due to the year’s changeover.

Faster Deployment of Laws and Reinforcement Strategies

Emphasizing the speedy proceedings, Powers said the council aims to action the plan post any necessary technical adjustments quickly. Mayor Adams, who can pass and enact the bill, backs the initiative, Powers added.

The Mayor also called for state legislators to enact a new law, giving the city more control to shut down unlicensed cannabis stores. In a bold statement, he promised to erase all these stores from the streets within a month given complete enforcement control.

Support from the Governor’s office has been forthcoming with Gov. Hochul admitting the rocky road of marijuana legalization and pledging to help the city in targeting the unregulated shops.

Slow Licensing Rollout Led to Unregulated Market Growth

In 2022, New York began issuing its first retail marijuana licenses, but the slow pace of approvals led to a burgeoning market of gray area sellers in the city. As per the state Cannabis Management Office, NYC has 33 legal cannabis retailers, possibly struggling to gain traction due to the competition from unlawful counterparts.

The budget plan that Hochul is discussing with state legislators would empower city authorities to enforce state-issued closure orders and enhance the power of the state’s Cannabis Management Office.

State Lawmakers Rally for Tougher Measures

State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Sen. Leroy Comrie, both Democrats from Queens, rallied at City Hall, urging their colleagues to prioritize the cannabis shop proposals. They introduced a new bill, the SMOKEOUT Act, aiming to boost the city’s powers to close illegal pot shops – an initiative Hochul then incorporated in state budget talks.

Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, also a Queens Democrat, introduced a resolution urging the Legislature to pass the SMOKEOUT Act, gaining support from seven sponsors so far. This integrated city-state approach signifies the lawmakers’ seriousness in handling the unregulated cannabis market and reiterates that non-compliance will not be taken lightly.