Unlicensed Cannabis Shops to be Padlocked Under New York Budget Agreement

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New York State is being blunt with retailers and landlords who are found to be overlooking cannabis restrictions.

While the state has fallen behind on issuing permits that led to an explosion in unlicensed weed shops, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the local authorities have the right to padlock storefronts as part of the 2025 budget.

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That’s not the only step Hochul is taking in the budget to snub out illicit cannabis sellers.

Landlords will also see increased enforcement if they are warned about a tenant selling as an unlicensed licensed vendor and they fail to begin eviction proceedings. New York City landlords could pay a fine of up to $50,000, according to the governor’s office, or an amount five times the rent from the time they were notified by OCM.

But landlords will also be given a little space in terms of grounds to evict a tenant. 

In the past, they would have to show that tenants primarily sold weed without a permit to give them the boot. Now they will be able to evict them based on the claim that the tenant “customarily or habitually” peddled marijuana. 

“Unlicensed dispensaries have littered New York neighborhoods, blatantly circumventing our laws and selling potentially dangerous products,” Hochul said in a statement. “Enough is enough. I promised to protect our communities and hard-working, legal cannabis licensees by expediting the closure of illicit storefronts.” 

Not only can unlicensed sales of cannabis result in padlocking of businesses, but sales to minors, violent conduct, the presence of firearms in the store, carrying products not tested or labeled according to the law and the sale of products dangerous to the user’s health could lock up shops.

The OCM can also lock up an unlicensed shop if it is near schools, houses of worship or public youth facilities.

While the new enforcement proceedings will be part of the $237 billion rough outline of a budget that was announced on Monday, it’s not clear how much funding will go toward these new cannabis enforcement efforts.

Only three of the nine budget bills were adopted by state legislators on Thursday afternoon.

The governor has put significant emphasis on retail matters, specifically organized retail theft for which $40.2 million has been set aside to address through law enforcement and the creation of a special task force. 

The bill will also elevate the charges of assaulting a retail worker to a felony count.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.