Millions in fines unpaid by New York’s unlicensed cannabis retailers

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The vast majority of fines levied against unlicensed cannabis retailers in New York have not been paid, underscoring the ongoing enforcement challenges in the struggling market.

Despite issuing fines in excess of $25 million, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and Department of Taxation and Finance have collected only $22,500 from unlicensed stores, The City news outlet reported.

That development comes on the heels of an October MJBizDaily report that most crackdown efforts by New York regulators and law enforcement agencies related to illegal marijuana sales had not been resolved.

At the time, according to The City, New York regulators halted administrative hearings where judges could levy fines and other penalties against those selling illicit marijuana products.

Under laws adopted last year, New York regulators can impose a $10,000 penalty for each day of illegal marijuana sales and a $20,000-per-day penalty against those selling cannabis after receiving an OCM order to cease operations.

Meanwhile, lawmakers who created the state’s 2021 legalization law – the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act – are considering potential changes to the statute in an effort to jump-start retail sales.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has pushed for more enforcement, recently called the state’s rollout of its adult-use market a “disaster” but said wholesale changes to the MRTA are “not likely to happen.”

New York launched legal adult-use sales on Dec. 29, 2022.