Making The Change: Illegal Cannabis Stores Will Now Be Closed!

I am currently writing this in the early hours after intensely debating the State Budget. As your State representative, I have been working to pass fiscal policies that represent the needs of our community. Moments ago, our community scored a tremendous victory as I voted yes and passed into law the hard stance against illegal cannabis shops that we have all asked for. Finally, the law gives law enforcement the ability to close these stores and padlock them shut!

As you all know, I voted against the legalization of cannabis. One reason was that the procedures to tackle the illegal cannabis stores were not strong enough. With over 2,000 illegal cannabis stores in New York City, and less than 100 legal cannabis stores throughout New York State, it was clear to everyone that the time had come to give law enforcement the tools they needed to shut down the illegal stores. By voting yes on this section of the budget, the State has included clear language to ensure that there is the ability to physically close an illegal store and padlock it shut. This important change in the law was a combination of multiple ideas and common sense that will help our State, our City, and our own community.

While closing the illegal stores was a crucial step, I knew we needed to go further. Having worked with the NYPD and the NYC Sheriff's Office on multiple raids, they conveyed their additional concerns with the law as it was written. It was important to me that their needs be addressed so they could tackle the issue of illegal cannabis being sold at a legal business. For example, if a store was selling cannabis without a license, there were minimal consequences - and that’s unacceptable. Through my vote on the budget, we changed the law so that bodegas, grocery stores or delis that are selling illegal cannabis would automatically lose any and all State licenses to conduct business, in addition to numerous fines and possible closure. Think about it, this change in the law ensures that any business that is selling illegal cannabis would no longer be able to legally sell tobacco products, liquor, beer, or any form of gambling (like lotto). This serves as a clear deterrent for store owners - break the law and you will lose your ability to do business in our State!

Through the work of this budget, the law finally sends a clear message that there are consequences for selling illegal products: whether that be an arrest, the full padlocking of your store, or the revoking of a State license to conduct your business. This is a successful step towards keeping our community safe. In the coming weeks, I look forward to seeing the padlocking of the illegal cannabis stores throughout the 23rd Assembly District.

Furthermore, I am continuing to advance my legislation with Senator Joe Addabbo that would prohibit a legal cannabis dispensary from operating within 1000 feet of the perimeter of school grounds - in addition to a playground, child day care providers, public park, or library. The bill, A.8589 sets needed standards to protect children, families, and neighborhoods as a whole. I have worked to make sure illegal cannabis shops do not disrupt our lives, but now we must ensure that any “legal” store does not cause any harm.

As always, my priority is providing for you, your families, and improving our quality of life. I believe that by giving law enforcement the ability to padlock and shut down illegal stores we can take back our community. There is more work to be done as we continue the 2024 Legislative Session and I look forward to bringing you results! Please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at 718-945-9550 or by email at It is a pleasure to serve you and I look forward to representing you for many more years to come.