BINGHAMTON N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – Today, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the launch of an interagency initiative to stop the sale of untested marijuana from unlicensed storefronts and trucks.

Enforcement officers from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management and Department of Taxation and Finance conducted inspections of storefront businesses not licensed to sell marijuana and issued notices of violation and orders to cease unlicensed activity.

“New York is proud to have undertaken the most equitable legal cannabis roll-out in the nation and the State will not stand idle as unlicensed operators break the law and sell untested products to underage New Yorkers,” Gov. Hochul said. “These enforcement actions are critical steps to protect and help those individuals who were promised a shot to start a legal business and be successful. Additionally, these unlicensed operators undermine the State’s efforts to generate substantial funds for a social equity fund that will go into the communities that have been hardest hit by over-prosecution of the cannabis laws in the past.” 

According to FY 2024 Budget, Governor Hochul signed legislation allowing for these expanded enforcement actions against unlicensed marijuana businesses to take place.

The legislation allows the Office of Cannabis Management to give out civil penalties against unlicensed cannabis businesses with fines of up to $20,000 a day. It also makes it a crime to sell cannabis and cannabis products without a license.

“The successful enforcement actions against unlicensed storefronts and trucks selling cannabis in New York City serves as a clear message that New York State is serious about curtailing the operations of illicit enterprises,” New York State Cannabis Control Board Chairwoman Tremaine Wright said. “By enforcing the law, empowered by new legislation, we are safeguarding public safety and the integrity of the legal cannabis market. Our mission is to create a fair and regulated environment that supports licensed businesses and protects consumers.” 

As a result of the legislation, the Department of Taxation and Finance can also conduct regulatory inspections of businesses selling marijuana to determine if appropriate taxes have been paid and issue penalties in cases where appropriate taxes have not been paid. The legislation also establishes a new tax fraud crime for businesses that knowingly fail to collect or cancel required cannabis taxes, or knowingly intend to sell any cannabis on which tax was required to be paid, but was not.

“Through the collaboration of our enforcement teams and law enforcement agencies, we will be able to take meaningful action against illegal cannabis operations that pose countless risks to our communities,” New York State Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said.

This approach aims to promote a fair and regulated market environment, ensuring consumer protection and bolstering support for licensed marijuana businesses.