NY Gov Tells Websites to Stop Pushing Bootleg Weed Shops

NY Gov Tells Websites to Stop Pushing Bootleg Weed ShopsYo, peep this – Governor Kathy Hochul of New York was straight up calling out social media companies like Google and Yelp to stop promoting them unlicensed weed shops. At a press conference, she rolled up with licensed dispensary owners to shine a light on the shady situation.

“If you tryna find some cannabis spots on Google Maps or Yelp, you gonna see a whole lotta illegal vendors poppin’ up,” Hochul dropped at the presser on Wednesday.

New York gave the green light to recreational bud in 2021, with the first legit adult-use cannabis spot opening up at the end of 2022. But the process of getting these licensed shops up and running has been slower than a snail’s pace. The red tape of the application process, finding suitable locations, and renovating spaces has been dragging things out. Less than 70 licensed weed shops have opened up statewide so far.

The rollout of new licensed shops got hit with setbacks from court cases challenging how the state was dishing out those first licenses. Them licenses were supposed to go to folks with past marijuana convictions. Some legal drama put a pause on handing out new licenses, but things have been settling down lately. 50 more licensed weed shops have opened since December, with at least 30 more popping up just this week.

But yo, while all that legal stuff was going on, the number of unlicensed weed spots in New York City blew up. City officials think there’s around 1,300 to maybe 2,000 unlicensed pot shops in the Big Apple alone. Manhattan is stacked with over 400 of them spots, according to The New York Times.

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At the press conference, Hochul laid it down that them unlicensed joints are a public health risk and messing with the state’s goals of giving folks opportunities in the regulated cannabis game who got dealt a bad hand from years of weed being illegal. She also admitted that trying to shut down these illegal spots with raids and fines ain’t cutting it.

“These fake shops are raking in cash while our legit operators are struggling – that needs to change,” Hochul declared.

Hochul got a plan in front of state lawmakers to make it easier for the Office of Cannabis Management to lock down them unlicensed spots. The orders would also be enforced by local agencies with more muscle to get it done.

But while these unlicensed hustlers keep slinging their product in New York, Hochul is asking social media and tech giants to stop promoting them illegal spots.

All them unlicensed joints clogging up websites and social media makes it tough for licensed operators to reach new customers. Osbert Orduña runs two legit cannabis spots in Queens and New Jersey. He’s had his listings taken down by Google four times for no apparent reason. He’s cool with Yelp but agrees they should delist them shady retailers too.

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“Google keeps playing games and taking us down for no reason other than having basic business info listed,” Orduña said.

In a statement, Yelp said they gotta let people talk about any business, even if they ain’t legit. They say it’s all about freedom of speech and helping regulators spot businesses without the proper licenses.

Meta, the boss of Facebook and Instagram, already has rules against promoting drug sales on their platforms. And Google said they would remove listings for unlicensed spots once regulators shut them down.

So yo, stay tuned cause this battle between legit and shady weed shops in New York ain’t over yet. Governor Hochul is making moves but there’s still work to do before them licensed operators can shine like they supposed to.

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