Are illegal weed retailers undermining the future of cannabis in NYC?

cannabis store in NYC photo
Cannabis Culture store in Manhattan, New York
(Image credit: NurPhoto / Contributor/ Getty Images)

Last March, New York joined the ranks of states that legalized recreational marijuana use, opening the door for a legal cannabis retail market. While New York City officials made it clear that illegal cannabis sales would not be tolerated, a thriving underground cannabis market has emerged, illegally selling products to tourists, residents, and commuters, The New York Times reports.

State regulators and some industry insiders are worried that the growing number of unlicensed dispensaries, bodegas, and smoke shops are capitalizing on the legalization before regulators can set rules to build the legal retail market. They are pushing for these shops to be shut down, wary that they could undermine the legal market before it can officially launch. But supporters of the underground weed shops argue that they are providing employment and serving the needs of people left waiting for the slow rollout of the legal market, per the Times.

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