That’s a lot of loot!
Landlords in the Big Apple who rent store space to illegal marijuana or tobacco sellers can now be fined $10,000 under a new law aimed at tackling the spate of unlicensed smoking shops that are popping up across the city city appear.
The law, now enacted, provides that commercial space owners will be fined under a two-strike system if they are caught knowingly renting space to unlicensed vendors, the city council announced on Monday.
Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, who drove the legislation, said the new law will “mark a turning point in the closure of illegal cannabis stores, which is on the rise in New York City and is threatening our communities.”
“So far, the measures at state and municipal level have been aimed at the actual companies. My legislation targets commercial landlords who knowingly rent to these illegal businesses.
“The fines are hefty and will signal landlords that they are either initiating eviction proceedings against current tenants or have a deterrent effect to discourage them from renting to them in the first place.”
Under the new Two Strike system, if raids uncover such unlicensed activity, a landlord will now be notified by the sheriff’s office that they are renting to an illegal company.
If the unlicensed weed and tobacco sellers are still operating from the storefront upon a follow-up inspection, the commercial landlord will initially be fined $5,000.
Fines of up to $10,000 will be imposed for each subsequent raid that recovers illegal weed.
Steven Soutendjik of the Real Estate Board of New York supported the new law, saying the commercial real estate industry “strongly condemns any real estate owner who knowingly leases a property for an illegal or unauthorized use.”
“We’ve all seen over the past year that these illegal smoking shops have sprung up in many neighborhoods of the city,” he continued. “The vast majority are not licensed cannabis dispensaries and sell tobacco and hash products along with other cannabis-related materials such as pipes and rolling papers.
“These storefronts and local retailers have become hotspots for illicit drug sales and distribution. These storefronts have also impacted the community’s streetscape and improved the quality of life.”
Mayor Eric Adams estimates that since the state legalized recreational marijuana use in 2021, 1,500 illegal cannabis stores have established themselves in the Big Apple.
According to the state’s Department of Cannabis Management, there are currently only five legally licensed smoking establishments in the city.
Councilwoman Schulman argued that products sold in illegal stores not only posed a health hazard to consumers and undermined licensed sellers, but also robbed the city of tax revenue.
“They pose a threat to public health and safety. These illegal businesses sell to children. The cannabis they were selling was found to be counterfeit,” she said.
“They prevent licensed vendors from … opening legitimate businesses, and they rob the city of much-needed tax revenue to fund vital programs and services.”