Gov. Kathy Hochul proposes new enforcement plan to weed out New York’s illegal marijuana shops

NEW YORK — There are new efforts to close down the illegal marijuana shops that have sprung up like weeds all over the state, especially in the five boroughs.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing a new enforcement plan that comes with stiff fines and new enforcement powers for state agencies.

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It was only three months ago that CBS2 waked into a store on West 52d Street that made it clear it was selling a multitude of marijuana products and asked the question of the day.

“Do you have any flower?”

“Yeah, it’s right here,” a clerk responded.

Flower is what those in the know call marijuana these days, and now Gov. Hochul is proposing new legislation to nip illegal sales of flower in the bud.

She wants stiff new fines to crack down on illegal stores, where long rows of different kinds of marijuana are displayed in clear Plexigas boxes so connoisseurs can smell the different types before making a choice.

“The continued existence of illegal dispensaries is unacceptable,” the governor said in a statement.

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Illegal pot shops could face fines of $200,000 for having illicit cannabis plants or products and up to $10,000 a day for selling without a license.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Brad Hoylman-Sigal has many illegal shops in his Manhattan district.

“I’m supportive of any efforts to shut these illegal cannabis shops down. They are a nuisance, an eyesore,” Hoylman-Sigal said.

The legislation would give investigators with the state Department of Taxation and Finance peace officer status to go after the illegal dispensaries for evading state cannabis sales taxes.

“These cannabis shops don’t pay taxes. They’re operating way outside the law, but, most importantly, they are dangerous, dangerous to young people, to tourists, and to others who may think that just because a cannabis shop is open on a block — many in my district — that they’re selling a product that has been sanctioned,” Hoylman-Sigal said.

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Mayor Eric Adams, who has complained that city penalties are too low to be a deterrent, was thrilled with the new proposal.

“Gov. Hochul clearly recognizes the need for action to strengthen the city’s ability to hold these illicit businesses accountable,” Press Secretary Fabien Levy said. “This enforcement is critical for the health and safety of our families and young people.”

Officials hope the bill is enacted as part of the budget, which is due at the end of the month.

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