CBS2 saw more than 1,000 pounds of illicit cannabis confiscated since the beginning of June by the Office of Cannabis Management, or OCM. Authorities say its retail value is up to $11 million.
A store on West 14th Street is one of 31 businesses ordered to cease activity, pending a court hearing, and the governor warned this is only the beginning of a statewide crackdown.
"Do you really want to risk this? This is going to hurt you monetarily as well," Hochul said.
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Because of recently passed legislation, she said the OCM can now fine unlicensed cannabis shops $10,000 per day. If sales continue, the fines can increase to $20,000 per day.
For repeat offenders, OCM can get a state court order that ultimately padlocks the premises for up to a year,.
"They've been around for three years now. It's a little ridiculous they're only doing it now. I know a lot of people who bought bad products from these places and gotten really physically ill," Upper East Side resident James Karasyov said.
"I think they're a little extreme. If anything, there should be measures in place to try to rope these people into the fold, not exclude them," added Jose Torchio of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Hochul did acknowledge the slow rollout of licensed dispensaries, saying now there are 15, and by September, there will be 17.
"I'm not satisfied with the pace. It is frustrating for those who have been anticipating the opportunity to open businesses, and we had to overcome a lot of hurdles and we're making changes," the governor said.
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Hochul says, for now, consumers should look for signs that are posted in the front windows of licensed shops. The QR code verifies the shop's license.
OCM says at licensed shops every product will indicate how much THC is inside products. There will also be a QR code for lab results.
"Now that it's being legalized there are better places to go," said Hope Dejous of the Upper East Side.
Consumers that spoke to CBS2 off camera said the price at licensed shops is slightly higher than unlicensed ones, but they're willing to pay more for a safer experience.
The Department of Taxation and Finance will also conduct inspections to determine if appropriate taxes have been paid. Hochul said the state will invest $5 million in enforcement and hire nearly 40 more agents.
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