The state of New York is ready to ramp up its recreational cannabis industry this summer. As the state dives deeper into the industry, it also plans to crack down on unlicensed cannabis distributors. This week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul introduced legislation to increase the penalties levied against unlicensed distributors, including fines of up to $20,000.
“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,” Hochul stated.
The state of New York legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2021. Since then, the state of New York has licensed 66 dispensaries for a population of nearly 20 million people. More recently, state regulators have announced plans to expand its licensing efforts to allow for 300 licensed dispensaries statewide.
“With this expansion, more entrepreneurs will be able to participate in the first wave of this industry, allowing them to capitalize on the growing demand for cannabis products,” New York Cannabis Control Board Chairman Tremaine Wright said.
As the state attempts to license additional dispensaries, the city of New York has reportedly increased its efforts to crack down on unlicensed distributors. Last year, Mayor Eric Adams announced the creation of a joint task force to penalize unlicensed distributors. A report from Gothamist in December claims that the agency seized more than 100,000 illegal products in two weeks.
“To those who believe this is going to become the Wild, Wild West of cannabis sales, we are saying clearly and loudly, ‘No, it is not,’” Adams said in December.