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Illegal pot shops in New York City are hurting legitimate marijuana dispensaries, Gov. Kathy Hochul says

NEW YORK — Gov. Kathy Hochul says the abundance of illegal marijuana dispensaries in New York is hurting legitimate businesses, and she’s asking social media companies to help her crack down on illegal pot shops.

The space where Bar Veloce now occupies on Ninth Avenue could soon become Hell’s Kitchen’s first legal marijuana dispensary. An application has recently been submitted.

“I think the illegal stores are making the environment very difficult right now,” said Charlie Todd of Community Board 4.

There are currently no legal marijuana dispensaries in Hell’s Kitchen, but you’d never know it the countless illegal shops on almost every block.

“It’s understandable why citizens … are very reluctant to purchase new cannabis stores because of the astronomical number of illegal stores that don’t follow the rules, that sell to minors, that have products of questionable origin,” Todd said.

The state has struggled to control the spread of illegal cannabis shopsthat do not contribute to marijuana sales taxes since recreational use became legal three years ago.

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CBS New York’s Ali Bauman asked New Yorkers if they could tell the difference between an illegal store and a legal store.

‘No, I didn’t even know they were illegal. You just told me,” Zee Grant said.

“It reinforces the sense that as a New Yorker, things are spiraling out of control in many ways,” says Charlie Pauldy.

Last week, Hochul said she wants to make it easier for the state Cannabis Management Agency to obtain court orders to lock down illegal shops and give local governments the power to implement it.

“Let’s give states and localities ways that they can lock the doors, number one, and keep these egregious offenders out,” Hochul said.

The governor too asking social media companies like Google and Yelp to exclude illegal cannabis stores from their search results.

“Do not be complicit in endangering the public health and livelihoods of these legitimate business owners,” Hochul said.

In a statement, a Yelp spokesperson said in part: “Allowing users to contribute and view information (including complaints) about unlicensed businesses serves the public interest and provides a tool for regulators.”

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A Google spokesperson said in part, “We display places that people can visit or interact with in the real world using various sources, including information from third parties.”

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