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New Law in NYC Targets Unlicensed Cannabis – A Major Game-Changer

New York City council members are hailing a new law that imposes fines on landlords who rent space to illegal weed shops as a "game changer." This law is a response to the growing number of unlicensed smoke shops that have cropped up throughout the city.

"We have a duty to protect a thriving and legal cannabis market, while also ensuring that the industry meets its equity goals," stated Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who represents Lower Manhattan, at a press conference outside Union Square Travel Agency Cannabis, a lawful dispensary on East 13th Street.

It is estimated that there are around 2,000 illegal cannabis shops in the city, and councilmembers are hopeful that this new law will make it easier to shut them down compared to the previous "nuisance abatement" law from 2017, which was used to remove adult retail stores from Times Square.

"These illegal shops prevent legitimate businesses from operating," explained Councilmember Lynn Schulman, who sponsored the new law. "They also rob the city of much-needed tax revenue that goes towards essential programs and services."

As of last month, landlords can be fined up to $10,000 under the new law if they knowingly rent to illegal cannabis sellers or fail to take proper action to evict them. The NYPD will collaborate with the Department of Finance and the NYC Sheriffs' Department to locate and communicate with illegal sellers and landlords.

Steve Soutendijk, representing retailers in the Real Estate Board of New York, joined the lawmakers in condemning illegal cannabis shops as a nuisance.

"The REBNY model retail lease unequivocally prohibits any illegal use of space, and we vehemently denounce property owners who knowingly lease their properties for illicit purposes," he emphasized.

According to lawmakers, the establishment of the process could span several months. Landlords who rent to unlicensed cannabis shops will initially receive a letter from the city, which will be followed by an inspection and a second warning.

"Subsequently, fines will be imposed," Schulman clarified and went on to say "This is a major game-changer."

The law also applies to illegal vaping shops, which have been found to be a source of underage smoking. Councilmembers are hopeful that this will help keep kids away from nicotine and other harmful substances. It remains to be seen if the new law can effectively deter cannabis sellers from operating illegally in New York


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