Up against at least 1,500 illegal marijuana shops in New York City, Gov. Kathy Hochul slammed social media companies Wednesday for listing the stores online.

It’s been a two-year challenge for state regulators charged with writing and enforcing the rules tied to the legal cannabis market.


What You Need To Know

    • Gov. Kathy Hochul wants social media companies to help her stomp out the illegal market

    • State law limits inspections and enforcement to just the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance

  • Although the NYC Sheriff’s office and NYPD are authorized to inspect and confiscate illegal products, they can’t shut down shops on their own. Hochul’s proposal would grant that authority if approved

Hochul’s latest solution? Blame social media.

“They’re allowing the sowing of a lot of confusion in the marketplace,” Hochul said at a press conference held at her Midtown Manhattan office. “If you type in cannabis dispensaries on Google Maps, or Yelp, you’ll get a long list of unlicensed illegal vendors.”

Hochul said they’re guilty of aiding illegal businesses.

“Now I’m calling on all these platforms to step up, do the right thing and be part of the solution. Don’t be complicit in helping jeopardize the public health and the livelihoods of these legitimate business owners,” Hochul said.

Search “cannabis store” on Google and odds are, you’ll view many illegal stores like “Weed World” — which is not included in the group of 77 open, licensed retail stores statewide.

Industry leaders are begging for relief.

“If you decide to set up an unlicensed spot, you can go to google, and set up a listing as a cannabis store — you shouldn’t be able to do that,” said Osbert Orduna, CEO of The Cannabis Place.

Orduna received a license to operate and is planning the grand opening of a Queens-based retail store.

“I’m impatient. I want more done. I want more of those thousands of applicants who want their shot at this opportunity,” Hochul said.

State law limits inspections and enforcement to just the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance. But there aren’t enough inspectors. Shutdowns take too long and require a judge’s sign off. Over the last six months, just nine illegal shops were padlocked.

Hochul wants to give local governments the same power as those state authorities by acting as their representatives.

Although the NYC Sheriff’s Office and NYPD are authorized to inspect and confiscate illegal products, they can’t shut down shops on their own. Hochul’s proposal would grant that authority if approved.

Mayor Eric Adams said he wants to give the city more power.

“Give the city the authority, which is so important to close down the cannabis shops here in all the cities. I spoke with colleagues across the entire state; they, too, are facing the cannabis issue that we are facing here,” Adams said in a Feb. 20 press conference at City Hall.