New York Governor Calls On Websites To Stop Promoting Unlicensed Weed Shops

New York Governor Calls On Websites To Stop Promoting Unlicensed Weed Shops

New York Gov. Cathy Hochul on Wednesday called on social media companies and popular websites like Google and Yelp to stop listing unlicensed cannabis retailers. The governor appeared at a press conference with licensed dispensary owners who face stiff competition from New York City's many unlicensed cannabis retailers and called for attention to the situation.

“If you type 'marijuana dispensary' into Google Maps or Yelp, you'll see a long list of unlicensed and illegal distributors,” Hochul said at a press conference Wednesday.

New York state legalized recreational marijuana in 2021, and the state's first licensed adult-use cannabis retail store is expected to open in late 2022. But the pace of opening licensed cannabis retail stores in New York state has been slow, with regulators citing the complexity of applications. Delays include issues with the approval process and difficulties securing and renovating suitable stores. To date, fewer than 70 licensed cannabis dispensaries have opened in the state.

The opening pace of newly licensed stores has also been slowed by several lawsuits challenging the state's process for granting initial licenses to cannabis retailers, which was limited to individuals with prior convictions for marijuana-related crimes. thwarted. Several injunctions have held up the granting of new licenses, but a recent settlement has resulted in an additional 50 licensed cannabis retail stores opening since December, including at least 30 new stores this week. Ta.

Efforts to shut down unlicensed cannabis stores fail

Meanwhile, the number of unlicensed retailers in New York, especially the Big Apple, has exploded. City officials estimate there are at least 1,300 unlicensed pot shops in New York City, and perhaps as many as 2,000. There are more than 400 such retailers in Manhattan alone. According to the report from of new york times.

Hochul said at a press conference Wednesday that unlicensed stores are a public health risk and that he is against the country's efforts to create opportunities in the regulated cannabis industry for people harmed by decades of marijuana prohibition. He said it was a threat. The governor also acknowledged that efforts to shut down unlicensed stores with raids and fines have been too limited and thus far unsuccessful.

“More and more cash continues to flow into the doors of legitimate businesses instead of into their doors. That needs to change,” Hochul said.

Hochul is introducing a proposal to the state Legislature that would make it easier for the state Cannabis Control Board to obtain orders to padlock unlicensed cannabis businesses. The order would also be enforceable by local agencies, which would have more resources to enforce the order.

As the number of unlicensed pot retailers continues to proliferate in New York, Hochul on Wednesday called on social media and tech companies to “ensure they don't list illegal sites and list legal stores.” .

The sheer number of unlicensed cannabis shops on websites and social media makes it difficult for licensed businesses to reach new customers and limits how they can promote their businesses. There is. Osbert Orduña operates two licensed cannabis shops, one in Queens, New York City, and his other in New Jersey.

Orduña said Google Maps has repeatedly removed his store's listing. Although he hasn't had any trouble with Yelp, he said he agrees with Hochul's sentiments and would like to see the website removed from the list of unauthorized retailers.

“Google has removed us from the platform four times for ‘violating their terms of service.’ We have done nothing other than list our store hours and basic business information.” he said.

Tech companies react

“Consumers have a First Amendment right to read and write about all businesses, even unlicensed ones,” consumer review site Yelp said in a statement. According to the report From the Associated Press.

“Allowing users to post and view information about unlicensed businesses serves the public interest and provides a resource for regulators to determine whether a particular business has the appropriate license.” ,” the statement reads.

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, previously said in a statement that its social media site “bans content that promotes the sale and purchase of drugs, including marijuana, in both ads and organic pages.” ABC7 New York reported. on wednesday.

Google also responded to Hochul's call to remove listings for unlicensed cannabis retailers, saying the company has banned cannabis advertising in New York and will remove listings for unlicensed stores once they are shut down by regulators.

“If we can confirm that a business has closed down for any reason, including licensing issues, we will reflect that closure on our list,” the statement said. “New York also prohibits cannabis advertising and removes it as soon as it is discovered, often before it is published.”

With two decades of dedicated experience, Nuggs is a seasoned cannabis writer and grower. His journey has been a harmonious blend of nurturing cannabis from seed to harvest and crafting insightful content. A true expert, they've honed strain-specific knowledge, cultivation techniques, and industry insights. His passion shines through enlightening articles and thriving gardens, making them a respected figure in both the growing and writing facets of the cannabis world.

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