Watch CBS News

Legal cannabis sales up across New York amid crackdown on illegal shops, governor says

New York making progress in shutting down illegal cannabis shops, governor says
New York making progress in shutting down illegal cannabis shops, governor says 01:52

NEW YORK -- New York is making major progress against illegal cannabis shops at both the city and state levels, officials say.

The New York State Cannabis Enforcement Task Force is about a month into its 90-day plan.

Illegal marijuana shops shut down across New York

"We were being flooded by the illegal operators ... That era is over," Hochul said at a press conference Tuesday.

Hochul says since the enforcement task force was launched on May 21, they have shut down 114 illegal stores and seized over $29 million worth of illegal products. Meanwhile, Adams says the city's "Operation Padlock to Protect" has resulted in the closure of nearly 400 local smoke shops and the seizure of $13.3 million in illegal products in "a matter of weeks."

"How do the legal businesses thrive if the illegal ones are dominating the market?" Hochul said.

She also says legal dispensaries located near the shuttered illegal shops have since seen a 27% rise in sales.

"It not only hurt our sales, but it also hurt our community, right, because where we are located in Queens, within a one-block radius, we had six unlicensed operators," said Osbert Orduna, CEO of Cannabis Place Dispensary.

Orduna says he worked hard to become one of the 135 licensed operators in New York state. He opened the Cannabis Place in Middle Village in March.

"It's really shocking to us how many people, new clients, are coming into our dispensary that didn't realize that they were shopping at an unlicensed shop," he said.

Beyond stealing business, Hochul and Adams say illegal shops sell to kids and contribute to crime.

"Gummy bears and candies, it is targeting our children," Adams said. "Illegal cannabis [are] shops magnets of criminality. We were seeing an increase in robberies, of shootings."

Holding up cannabis products designed to resemble the packaging for children's cereal and cupcake mix, Hochul said, "This is designed for one purpose, and that is to get our young people hooked early on and get them wanting this and craving this. That's not allowed in the state of New York."

Licensed vendors say there's also no way to know what an unlicensed shop is actually selling.

"For example, fentanyl-laced cannabis has been seized by the sheriff," Orduna said.

Consumers who spoke to CBS New York's Natalie Duddridge say it's hard to tell what's licensed and what's unlicensed. Experts say to be safe, verify that your shop is on the state's approved list of adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

New York's legal cannabis program undergoing an overhaul

In May, the governor announced a major overhaul of the Office of Cannabis Management after a review of the state's rollout of legalized marijuana found a number of missteps.

The crackdown on illegal shops is just one part of that overhaul. Other steps include fixing the internal licensing process, with plans to clear up the backlog of applications and a goal of completing new license applications within 90 days.

Demonstrators call to protect equity of New York's cannabis industry

A protest was held outside the governor's Manhattan office Tuesday. Demonstrators called to protect the equity of the cannabis industry.

Demonstrators say New York's cannabis industry is being taken over by lobbyists and large coprorations.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.