Legal weed sales rise in NY amid crackdown on unlicensed shops, Gov. Hochul says

NEW YORK — Legal cannabis sales have shot up 27% in parts of New York State where the state government has applied new provisions allowing for stricter enforcement against unlicensed weed purveyors, Gov. Kathy Hochul revealed Tuesday.

Hochul, along with Mayor Eric Adams, touted the new numbers at a West Side press conference to frame the stepped-up enforcement as a success story.

“We’ve been striving to reach our goal of shutting down the majority of these illegal stores in 90 days,” said Hochul. “We’ve seen legal sales rise dramatically … The progress is clear.”

The 27% figure does not apply to areas where the state has not enacted shutdowns of unlicenses weed shops, a representative for Hochul noted.

Hochul announced in April that as part of the state budget she and Albany lawmakers agreed to provisions allowing the NYPD to close unlicensed shops and the state to revoke tobacco, liquor and lottery licenses from those sellers and establish fines for store owners that run afoul of padlock orders.

The provisions were long sought by Adams, who on Tuesday called the unlicensed shops “magnets of criminality.” A month after the law was finalized, Hochul launched the state’s Cannabis Enforcement Task Force in May.

On Tuesday, she said those measures have led to 3,200 pounds of illicit cannabis products worth nearly $30 million being seized over the past month. In total, state agencies have closed 114 unlicensed weed retailers so far.

But those closures don’t include the city’s efforts, which Adams said have resulted in an additional 400 stores being shuttered within the five boroughs.

“There are so many benefits to cannabis when it’s used correctly, and that’s what legalization is about,” the mayor said Tuesday. “It’s about following the law. It is not about breaking the law.”

While Hochul and Adams celebrated the new enforcement regimen Tuesday, a class-action lawsuit filed last week in federal court threatens to harsh their mellow.

That suit, filed in Manhattan federal court on behalf of 27 businesses, alleges that Adams’ so-called “Operation Padlock,” which seeks to shut down stores selling marijuana illegally, is in violation of due process rights protected under federal law.

Hochul said the intent of the new enforcement provisions are “just and proper” when asked about that lawsuit Tuesday.