Proposed Legislation Would Help New York’s Illegal Cannabis Market

The New York City Council is considering a new proposal that would make it easier to close illegal cannabis shops that have cropped up around the city. 

The new legislation, introduced by City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, amends the city’s Nuisance Abatement Law to make it easier to shut down the shops by expediting closures, according to Tully Rinckey. This legislation is very much needed since New York has been slow to reprimand any illegal shops since adult-use cannabis became legal two-and-a-half years ago.

Action is Needed Against Illegal Shops

“New York has been dealing with this issue a lot, but they just don’t know how to proceed with it,” Ryan McCall, a cannabis law attorney in Tully Rinckey’s Albany office, says. “They say that they will prosecute all of the illegal shops, but nothing has happened to date. If there’s more public pushback on this problem, I think they would take it more seriously.”

McCall says that the illegal cannabis shops market has gotten so bad that any adult can walk into a regular smoke shop and find them selling illegal cannabis. The problem in the state is the lack of legislation. New York legalized adult-use marijuana in 2021, but no proper legislation was put in place to regulate the market.

Heftier Fines Could Help

“When you make criminal penalties so minimal, you’ve reached an issue where there isn’t much you can do. There are a lot of threats against these illegal cannabis shops, but not a lot of penalties for them,” McCall says. 

Currently, the fine for selling illegal cannabis is between $200 to $300, according to McCall, which isn’t that severe. If the penalties were more hefty, that would act as a better deterrent. 

In order for this proposed legislation to go through, it needs to pass the Assembly and then the Senate, which will finally land it on the Governor’s desk.