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Illegal pot shops are hurting legitimate marijuana dispensaries, Gov. Kathy Hochul says


By Ali Bauman

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — Gov. Kathy Hochul says the abundance of illegal marijuana dispensaries in New York is hurting legitimate businesses, and she’s asking social media companies to help her crack down on illegal pot shops.

The space where Bar Veloce is now on Ninth Avenue may soon become Hell’s Kitchen’s first legal marijuana dispensary. An application was recently submitted.

“I think the illegal stores are making the climate really difficult right now,” said Charlie Todd, with Community Board 4.

There are currently no legal pot dispensaries in Hell’s Kitchen, but you’d never know that by the countless illegal shops on almost every block.

“It’s understandable why citizens … are very reluctant to get on board with new cannabis shops because of the astronomical amount of illegal stores that don’t play by the rules, that are selling to minors, that have product of questionable origin,” Todd said.

The state has struggled to control the proliferation of illegal pot shops, which don’t contribute to the marijuana sales tax, since recreational use became legal three years ago.

CBS New York’s Ali Bauman asked New Yorkers if they could tell the difference between an illegal shop and a legal one.

“No, I didn’t even know they were illegal. You just told me that,” Zee Grant said.

“It sort of reinforces the feeling that as a New Yorker, things are getting out of control in a lot of ways,” Charlie Pauldy said.

This past week, Hochul said she wants to make it easier for the state Office of Cannabis Management to obtain court orders for padlocking illegal shops and give local governments the power to carry that out.

“Let’s give states and localities ways that they can padlock the doors, number one, and shut down these flagrant violators,” Hochul said.

The governor is also asking social media companies like Google and Yelp to exclude illegal cannabis shops from their search results.

“Don’t be complicit in helping jeopardize the public health and the livelihoods of these legitimate business owners,” Hochul said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Yelp said in part, “Allowing users to contribute and see information (including complaints) about unlicensed businesses serves the public interest and provides a resource for regulators.”

A Google spokesperson said in part, “We display places that people can visit or interact with in the real world by using a variety of sources, including third-party information.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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