June 18, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Hundreds of Illicit Storefronts Shut Down by the New York State Task Force, Leading to a Surge in Sales for Legal Retailers

Governor Hochul Announces Hundreds of Illicit Storefronts Shut Down by the New York State Task Force, Leading to a Surge in Sales for Legal Retailers

State Agencies Closed 114 Stores Since Launch of the Cannabis Enforcement Task Force; Localities, Including New York City, Report an Additional 400 Closures Due to New Legislation Signed By Governor Hochul

Legal Retailers in Enforcement Areas Reported a 27 Percent Increase in Sales From the First Week of May to the First Week of June, Nearly Seven Times Higher Than the Previous Month-Over-Month Data

State Enforcement Agencies Reported More than $29 Million Worth of Illegal Product Seized

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that in just 3 weeks, more than 100 illicit storefronts across the state were shut down by the New York State Cannabis Enforcement Task Force. The State’s commitment to shutting down these unlicensed cannabis storefronts has directly contributed to a 27 percent increase in legal cannabis sales in areas impacted by the Task Force’s enforcement activities.

“We are committed to building the strongest, most equitable cannabis market in the nation,” Governor Hochul said. “In order to advance that goal, we promised to expedite the closure of unlicensed cannabis storefronts, and I’m here today to say: we’re getting it done.”

Office of Cannabis Management Acting Executive Director Felicia A.B. Reid said, “The risks and dangers that unlicensed cannabis poses to our communities and licensed cannabusiness is no small thing. They threaten to undo the incredible work New York has done to center equity, create jobs, and ensure the integrity of products as the cannabis market expands. It is thanks to the dedication of the Task Force members that New York is making pointed progress in shutting down unlawful stores. The Governor’s energy and focus on getting this work done has been critical to its success, and I applaud all the hard-working folks on the enforcement team for their incredible commitment to this effort.”

New York State Police Superintendent Steven G. James said, “The New York State Cannabis Enforcement Task Force is a significant statewide effort and we continue to work closely with the Office of Cannabis Management and our other state agency partners with the goal of shutting down sales of cannabis in illegal shops and disrupting their supply. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership and for providing the resources needed to make this a successful effort.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “For too long, illegal cannabis shops have contributed to a feeling that anything goes on our streets, but not anymore. After working with Governor Hochul and our partners in Albany to give local municipalities the power we needed to weed out this illegal activity, we launched 'Operation Padlock to Protect,' which is already seeing stunning results. In a matter of weeks, we have shut down nearly 400 smoke shops, seized $13.3 million in illegal products, and imposed more than $30 million in fines and penalties. Our work will protect children, keep our streets safe, and contribute to the thriving legal market that New York deserves.”

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In April, Governor Hochul unveiled new initiatives to shut down illicit cannabis operations and protect the legal marketplace as part of the FY25 Enacted Budget. The plan provides the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and local municipalities with new authority to act against illicit storefronts and those who enable them. The initiatives are the strongest set of policies enacted thus far to tackle the illicit cannabis marketplace.

On May 21, Governor Hochul launched the Cannabis Enforcement Task Force. The Task Force, led by the State Police First Deputy Superintendent, is a major statewide effort to coordinate staff from several agencies to combat the illicit cannabis market. Through collaboration between the State Police, OCM, and other State agencies, the Task Force is equipped to tackle the full scope of illegal cannabis activity. The Task Force has worked with landlords to evict illegal dispensaries, and works to penalize landlords who fail to take steps to evict tenants after they are informed they are operating illegally.

The State’s commitment to shutting down these unlicensed cannabis storefronts has had a direct impact on the legal cannabis industry. Since May 21, when the Task Force was launched, 114 illegal cannabis stores have been padlocked. In addition, the OCM reports that $29,306,247 worth of illegal substances was seized from these stores and legal cannabis sales are up 27 percent since May for stores close to the padlocked locations.

We are committed to building the strongest, most equitable cannabis market in the nation.

Governor Hochul

State Senator Nathalia Fernandez said, "As a strong advocate for legal and regulated cannabis sales, I commend Governor Hochul and the New York State Cannabis Enforcement Task Force for their diligent efforts in shutting down illicit storefronts. As we advance this initiative, I am committed to seeing these enforcement efforts expand into major cities like New Rochelle, and throughout the entire state. These stores are selling unregulated, unvetted products that pose a significant risk to the community. This action not only safeguards our communities but also bolsters the legal market. We are committed to ensuring a fair and safe cannabis industry in New York, and these enforcement measures are a crucial step in that direction.”

State Senator Jamaal Bailey said, “In this year’s budget, we took major steps in establishing a fair and equitable cannabis market in New York state. Businesses engaging in illegal cannabis sales not only undermine the legal cannabis market but also put the health and safety of our communities at risk. We took important steps in holding these unethical businesses accountable and protecting the well-being of our communities. By allowing for the revocation of licenses for businesses involved in illegal cannabis sales, and creating greater ability for localities to close establishments that are flouting the law, this will strengthen the enforcement of New York's cannabis laws and ensure a level playing field for all businesses,” said Senator Jamaal T. Bailey, “I thank Gov. Kathy Hochul for her leadership on this important topic , and our legislative leaders Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as my colleagues in the legislature for their support.

State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton said, “The proliferation of illegal shops in our community has been completely unacceptable, posing a public health and safety issue. This year we gave greater authority to localities and the Office of Cannabis Management to padlock illegal shops, with a series of fines for initial offenses. This change was long overdue and I am happy that as of a result local law enforcement has been able to close them efficiently.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “Today marks a crucial victory for New York State as we take decisive action against illegal cannabis operations. Shutting down these illegal shops is essential for safeguarding public health, supporting legitimate businesses, and maintaining the trust of our citizens in the legal framework we have established. I am proud to have worked with Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Senate colleagues to close these illegal operators.”

State Senator Leroy Comrie said, “I fully support the efforts of the Cannabis Enforcement Task Force to aggressively close all unlicensed stores that are selling unregulated products throughout our state. We must ensure that anyone that is distributing cannabis product are using safe tested approved materials. These unlicensed establishments habitually are not using any state regulated products.”

Assemblymember John Zaccaro, Jr. said, “The coordinated shutdown of hundreds of illicit cannabis storefronts is a testament to fostering a fair, regulated and safe market in New York. This significant progress could not have been accomplished without the leadership of Governor Hochul, the New York State Police, and the Office of Cannabis Management. This whole-of-government approach boosts legal sales, safeguards our communities and uplifts those most impacted by the War on Drugs. As we celebrate today’s successes we remain laser focused against illegal cannabis operations that will ensure the success and integrity of our state’s legal cannabis market.”

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, “State and city agencies working together to swiftly shut down stores illegally selling cannabis is what government should look like. Today’s announcement demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to eradicating an illegal market and helping us to keep our community safe. The purpose of the MRTA was to ensure a safe and thriving cannabis market for New Yorkers, in order to right the historical wrongs committed against Black and Brown communities. And while New York now nationally leads the way in legal dispensaries owned by people of color, much work remains to be done before we can truly achieve our goal of social equity. I will continue to work with the Governor and our partners in state and city government to guarantee the health and safety of my neighbors and fully establish a thriving industry that truly uplifts Black and Brown New Yorkers.”

Assemblymember Kenny Burgos said, “Bravo to Governor Hochul and the Task Force for their crackdown on these illicit cannabis operations. This decisive action fuels the growth of our legal market and champions the legitimate, licensed entrepreneurs shaping this growing industry. We’re cultivating a fair, robust cannabis landscape in New York—a testament to what strong, equitable regulation can achieve.”

Assemblymember Landon Dais said, “The closure of illegal cannabis stores is a necessary step to protect our communities from unsafe and untested cannabis products. The closures also provide protection for our legal shops, especially our social equity licensees. We must continue the expansion of our social equity licenses, and ensure they are hiring people from communities impacted by the war on drugs.”

Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia said, “Governor Hochul’s announcement of new leadership for the Office of Cannabis Management is a significant step in addressing the proliferation of illegal cannabis stores and helping to build an equitable cannabis industry. The Bronx was one of the hardest hit counties by the war on drugs and it is critical that we expand pathways for our communities to enter into the cannabis industry. By doing so, we aim to foster economic growth and ensure fair access to opportunities within the cannabis industry for all our communities.”

Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos said, “The measures enacted in the FY25 Budget to ensure a strong legal cannabis market are the results of effective collaboration between my fellow colleagues in the legislature, the Office of the Governor, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and dozens of advocates. Unlicensed shops take away from our goal of a socially equitable market where responsible business owners can prosper. We already see the benefits that come from giving the Office of Cannabis Management and state and local law enforcement the capacity to shut down unlicensed shops, with sales from legal cannabis sales increasing 27 percent in just a few short weeks. These measures will allow small businesses and many minority and women-owned businesses the opportunity to responsibly and legally sell cannabis and create jobs in our communities.”

Assemblymember Grace Lee said, "I thank Governor Hochul for her partnership in the work we have done in the Assembly over the past year to close illegal cannabis stores. Illegal cannabis stores in my district, specifically on the Lower East Side, have become a serious problem and a hazard for residents, and they must be removed. With the governor’s support, we have successfully passed legislation that provides OCM and local law enforcement the tools they need to shut down illegal stores and pave the way for a legal market to succeed. I am encouraged by the immediate impact the enforcement is already making in our communities.”

Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar said, “Shutting down the illegal smoke shops shows what we can achieve when all levels of government come together to address the issues facing New Yorkers. I was proud to mobilize New Yorkers across all 5 boroughs to support including local cannabis enforcement in the state budget. We have already closed 500 unlicensed cannabis shops in a matter of weeks. That is 500 fewer shops attracting armed robberies and selling to children; tons of unregulated cannabis off our streets; and tens of millions of dollars in more tax revenue to invest in communities. Thank you to Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for hearing the concerns of the community and partnering with me to end the scourge of illegal smoke shops once and for all.”

Assemblymember Chantel Jackson said, "The closure of illegal cannabis shops in New York is a timely and crucial step, particularly with the school year ending and more young people spending time outdoors. Ensuring these shops are no longer able to sell to minors protects our youth from premature exposure to cannabis. This action will foster a safer community environment."

Governor Hochul Announces Hundreds of Illicit Storefronts Shut Down by the New York State Task Force

OCM is committed to the Governor’s vision of an equitable cannabis market and reports that the Social and Economic Equity (SEE) program continues to promote inclusivity and opportunity within the industry. Currently, 54 percent of new applicants are SEE candidates. The breakdown includes 39 percent minority-owned business, 39 percent women-owned business, 9 percent service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, 8 percent distressed farmers, and 6 percent communities disproportionately impacted, highlighting the diversity and inclusivity of New York's evolving cannabis landscape. This dynamic progress demonstrates the State’s unwavering dedication to creating a fair, equitable, and thriving cannabis industry in New York State.

To date OCM has opened 135 legal dispensaries throughout the state. View the list of licensed dispensaries selling cannabis products grown by NY farmers and tested, packaged, and labeled in accordance with New York State’s regulated system.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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