New York Budget Includes $16M to Combat Unlicensed Cannabis Dispensaries

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the state’s budget bill on Thursday, securing $16 million to help officials crack down on unlicensed cannabis operators.

Full story after the jump.

New York’s budget bill includes $16 million in funds to combat unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, the Buffalo News reports. The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) this morning, increases fines for illegal operators from $500 to up to $7,500 for the first offense and increases the monetary penalties to up to three times the amount of tax that would have been collected on the sales.

The bill also gives the state authority to mandate store closures, seek restraining orders, charge unlicensed shops with tax fraud, and allow landlords to evict unlawful dispensaries.  

Language in the bill is careful to differentiate that the rules would pertain only to illegal cannabis shops and not private citizens.  

Cities throughout the state, particularly New York City, have seen unlicensed cannabis dispensaries proliferate as the state has been slow to issue adult-use retail licenses. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) had previously proposed fines of up to $10,000 per day for unlawful cannabis storefronts but the language in the budget proposal would give the state even more options in closing the shops.  

A report authored in February by MPG Consulting on behalf of multistate cannabis operator Acreage Holdings suggests that if New York state does not get cannabis businesses licensed soon, it could cost the state $2.6 billion in related tax revenues over eight years.  

New York’s budget is more than a month late.

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