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US (NY): NY's new problem: what to do with a billion dollar cannabis mountain?

"Let's Be Blunt: No smoking in the plazas" is the message that has been placed around Times Square following newly liberalized cannabis laws that have turned New York, some say, into a pot-smoking free for all. The legislation has also set off an upstate cultivation boom that produced 300,000 pounds of weed, valued at three-quarters of a billion dollars, in its first harvest.

So far, just a handful of state-licensed dispensaries have opened, a complement to hundreds of weed-selling vape stores, more traditional home delivery services, and those calling out their wares in parks and street corners across the city.

With the aroma and sales of cannabis seemingly everywhere, the city's mayor, Eric Adams, is committed to redoubling efforts to crack down on unlicensed distributors, raiding dozens of stores, confiscating products, and issuing fines. In one instance, a converted school bus selling marijuana near Rockaway Beach ferry was seized.

There is big money at stake. As of March 2022, weed-legal states reported a combined total of $11.2bn in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales. Nationally, the legal cannabis market could reach $66bn by 2025. "We have to zero in on this cannabis stuff," Adams said last week at City Hall in one of a series of speeches in which he has expressed concern that illegal stores are selling unregulated and untested cannabis products designed to entice children. "We can't have people make a mockery of our system."


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