Meta, Google must quit promoting illicit marijuana, New York governor says

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New York’s governor is demanding that social media sites and search engines such as Meta and Google stop promoting illicit marijuana sellers.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was planning a Wednesday news conference to share more about how her office planned to crack down on illegal operators, according to the New York Post.

“Right now, Google and others knowingly allow illegal stores to promote unlicensed products on their platforms,” she said in a statement to the Post.

“I’m calling on them to cease promotion of all illegal cannabis shops.”

Google did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

A spokesperson for Meta told the newspaper that “we prohibit content – both in ads and organically on pages – that promotes the buying and selling of drugs, including marijuana, and remove it whenever we find it.”

Meta is the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.

New York’s adult-use market has been slow to launch because of legal entanglements since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2021.

In the meantime, unlicensed sellers have proliferated across the state, and, despite enforcement efforts, millions in unpaid fines are still owed by those running the stores.

Retail sales of legal recreational marijuana were worth just $83 million between the beginning of 2023 and Sept. 29, according to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

New York’s state’s Office of Cannabis Management plans to award 110 cannabis licenses in February, but that’s only a fraction of the number of those hoping to enter the market.