Republican lawmakers are calling for an end to so-called "sticker stores" in New York that illegally sell cannabis products throughout the state.
The measure backed by Sen. Tom O'Mara as well as Assemblyman Chris Friend and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano is the latest effort to address the proliferation of marijuana products sold at some merchants who do not have a license from the state to do so.
Lawmakers are making another push for the bill, introduced last year, as New York's cannabis marketplace is beginning to take shape this year. The first retail outlet selling legal cannabis products has opened in New York City.
The measure proposed by Republicans and backed by law enforcement officials would create criminal and civil penalties for violators. Money generated by fines would be sent to county governments.
“New York State needs to stop the proliferation of illegal marijuana ‘sticker stores’ throughout the region we represent and statewide," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. "These illegal operations diminish the quality of life and risk the safety of the communities and neighborhoods where they operate."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in recent months have acknowledged the issues of illegal cannabis sales as the legal marketplace starts up. In the state Assembly, Democratic lawmaker Amy Paulin has introduced legislation meant to boost fines for illegal marijuana sales, which could also lead to the closure of businesses.
Republicans, meanwhile, are uneasy with the new legal system, but acknowledge it has to be properly overseen.
"New York State is establishing a legal and appropriately regulated network of adult-use recreational marijuana dispensaries, with all the necessary safeguards," they said in the statement. "While we opposed the legalization of marijuana from the outset, if it’s going to go forward, it needs to take place under a legally established system with the appropriate oversight. We need to make it clear that these illegal sticker stores cannot operate and that there are criminal and civil consequences for any owners who continue to do so."