By Amelia Pollard, Tiffany Kary, and Gregory Korte, published December 12, 2022
“New York regulators and law enforcement are starting to crack down on an onslaught of illicit pot sellers exploiting the run-up to the state’s first recreational marijuana sales.
Scores of so-called weed bodegas have popped up in storefronts across the city hawking pre-rolled joints, edibles and gummies that tout cannabis’ psychoactive ingredient THC. The problem is, none of them are actually legal, licensed sellers. And the $2 billion market in illegal sales poses a threat to New York’s ambitions to launch a tax-generating industry of mom-and-pop shops owned by entrepreneurs impacted by past marijuana arrests.
New York state passed legislation two years ago that decriminalized pot, made it legal for individuals to consume cannabis and allowed New Yorkers to buy small amounts of weed. However, it took months to formulate regulations and grant licenses, creating a legal gray area where law enforcement was reluctant to go after so-called legacy sellers who were being encouraged by New York’s regulators to apply for licenses.”