Following New York's legalization of cannabis in 2021, at least 1,200 unlicensed stores have reportedly popped up in New York City.
In response to the disproportionately small number of legal weed stores and the thriving gray market, the state said a newly assembled task force will help even the score, after seizing $10 million worth of illegal cannabis and tobacco products, and closing 53 stores over the course of two weeks at the end of last year.
In March 2021, the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) legalized possession and consumption of the plant but offered no legal retailers for non-medical consumers to buy from.
This bill essentially opened an 18-month green rush for sellers of all experience levels, including many corner stores and tobacco shops that had no previous experience sourcing or selling cannabis.
The state has made a clear distinction between these new illicit storefronts and longtime legacy sellers who either stopped operations in hopes of getting a license, or continued to operate discreetly without posing as licensed or regulated.
The task force will investigate the people who are funding these stores, as well as New York's many delivery services.
More legal shops will be opening soon, but these trap shops eventually will get shut down.