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New York Seizes 11,000 Pounds of Marijuana Valued at $54 Million in Latest Crackdown

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In the latest crackdown against unlicensed cannabis storefronts, authorities under Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration seized over 11,000 pounds of illicitly sold cannabis products valued at more than $54 million. The Office of Cannabis Management, announcing this on Monday, highlighted a recent court victory on Nov. 21 that facilitates the closure of unlawfully operated marijuana stores.

Inspections conducted just last month resulted in the confiscation of 812 pounds of flower, 701 pounds of edibles, and 61 pounds of cannabis concentrate, with an estimated total worth of $7.3 million. Over the course of the year, a total of 350 locations underwent inspections, including re-inspections of 88 sites, leading to the cumulative haul of 11,000 pounds of cannabis valued at $54 million.

Chris Alexander, the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, emphasized the ongoing commitment to prioritizing safety across the state and shutting down illegal operators. He underscored the importance of increasing legal cannabis businesses to address the issue of illicit shops and meet the demand of New Yorkers for safe, trusted, and locally grown cannabis from legal dispensaries.

Earlier in the year, Gov. Hochul and the legislature passed a law imposing stricter penalties on unlicensed operators proliferating across New York City, estimated to be as many as 1,500 according to Mayor Eric Adams and Sheriff Anthony Miranda. The fines for illegal cannabis sales now start at $10,000 per day and can escalate to $20,000 per day for persistent violations, with the ability to seek court orders for the closure of businesses repeatedly breaking the law.

The challenges in the cannabis industry in New York, including a slow rollout and legal hurdles, have been acknowledged. Currently, the state has 27 licensed adult-use cannabis dispensaries, with 12 in the city, and 44 approved Cannabis Growers Showcases functioning as farmers markets for marijuana products.

Despite setbacks, recent legal resolutions have paved the way for state regulators to expedite the approval and opening of new licensed cannabis shops in the coming months. The industry, previously hindered by lawsuits and legal uncertainties, is expected to experience increased momentum in its development.