NYC Has Illegal 1,400 Unlicensed Marijuana Vendors Proliferating!

NYC Has Illegal 1,400 Unlicensed Marijuana Vendors Proliferating!

A “rapid and unregulated proliferation” of an illegal market has led to as many as 1,400 unlicensed outlets selling marijuana products in New York City, endangering the state’s slowly developing adult-use market. Only two adult-use marijuana dispensaries, both in Lower Manhattan, are currently operating in the entire state of New York, which authorized the selling of marijuana for recreational purposes in March 2021.

As a result, a brazen black market has emerged in New York City to supply the marijuana demand. Untested cannabis of unknown origin is now being sold from unlicensed stores, smoke shops, food trucks, and delivery services—many of which give the impression to the general public that they are legitimate businesses.

NYC Has Illegal 1,400 Unlicensed Marijuana Vendors Proliferating!

According to a report from a recent City Council meeting, “many people presume that the smoke shops selling cannabis products are also legal” because smoking marijuana is permitted in New York State. Although “it is impossible to tell exactly how many stores are selling… marijuana goods without a license,” the report stated, Sheriff Anthony Miranda reportedly told the council last week that there are at least 1,400 such offenders in New York City.

The New York Medical Cannabis Industry, which represents multistate operators who have been barred from the adult-use market, commissioned lab tests of products purchased from some unlicensed sellers. The tests revealed “prohibited levels of eight different contaminants including E. coli, salmonella, nickel, and lead in about 40%” of the products tested, according to the report.

NYC Has Illegal 1,400 Unlicensed Marijuana Vendors Proliferating!

Although there is no information on how many of these vendors are abiding by the state law that forbids those under the age of 21 from purchasing and using marijuana, the report stated that “it can be assumed that at least some of them are selling their products illegally to underage persons, posing a serious health threat.”

The present penalty for selling cannabis without a license in New York State is a $250 fine, which is seen to be insufficient to deter violators. As enforcement attempts have thus far proven ineffective, state and municipal lawmakers have vowed to strengthen rules.

NYC Has Illegal 1,400 Unlicensed Marijuana Vendors Proliferating!

Last year, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management started notifying violating vendors to cease and desist in large numbers. In addition, a task team organized by Mayor Eric Adams in November and December seized illegal goods valued at an estimated $4 million while issuing 500 civil infractions and 66 criminal summonses.

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