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Hochul calls her new proposals a "reckoning" for unlicensed cannabis retailers

A man and woman hold a padlock while standing at a podium, with other people behind them
Susan Watts/Office of Governor K/Susan Watts/Office of Governor K
Office of the Governor
Gov. Hochul wants to boost state and local padlocking powers over unlicensed cannabis retailers

Governor Kathy Hochul wants to help the state and local governments weed out more unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, with a new proposal announced Friday that is baked into the pending state budget.

The proposal would give “broad padlocking authority” to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), the regulatory body in charge of the state’s cannabis legalization and licensing.

Under the current law, state regulators are able to conduct inspections and seize products from unlicensed businesses, but they need a closure order from a county supreme court before they can physically padlock the premises.

In last year’s annual report, the OCM said its investigators shut down at least eight “persistently non-compliant unlicensed cannabis retail locations.”

According to Friday’s press conference, the new plan would empower the OCM to immediately lock down an illegal cannabis storefront if the agency’s inspection uncovers any of what it deems "imminent" threats to health, including:

  • Sales to minors.
  • Unlicensed processing of cannabis.
  • Violent conduct.
  • Presence of unlawful firearms.
  • Proximity to schools, houses of worship or public youth facilities.
  • Products leading to illness or hospitalization.
  • Products not tested or labeled according to NY Law.

The power to padlock is also being extended to cities and counties. Under the proposed initiative, local governments will be able to pass their own laws regulating unlicensed cannabis businesses as long as their established procedures are in line with the state’s.

Hochul’s proposal would also establish penalties for landlords who “turn a blind eye to the illegal activity under their purview.” If they fail to evict tenants who violate the cannabis law, they could be liable for a $50,000 fine within New York City, and a penalty five times the price of rent everywhere else.

Hochul says she’s using the power of the state budget to provide tools "at the state and local level to shutter these illegal shops once and for all.”

The governor’s proposals are part of the state’s 2025 budget, which has not yet been finalized by state lawmakers.

Patrick McCullough is a graduate student studying Library Science at Syracuse University. He is expected to graduate in May, 2026. As a student contributor at WAER, Patrick produces digital and audio stories.