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New York Bills Would Let People File Legal Actions Against Unlicensed Marijuana Businesses

Newly introduced legislation in New York State would allow people in the state to bring legal actions against entities that violate state marijuana laws, potentially empowering ordinary individuals to sue unlicensed cannabis sellers or licensees skirting state law.

Identical companion bills, S.9441 in the Senate and A.10248 in the Assembly, were introduced in the legislature last week. The Senate bill, from Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D), has been referred to the Finance Committee in that chamber, while the Assembly measure, from Assemblymember John Zaccaro Jr. (D), will begin in the Judiciary Committee.

As written, they would enable private individuals to file civil lawsuits against anyone violating a part of the state’s cannabis law that prohibits unlawful cultivation, processing, distribution or sales of cannabis or cannabis products. Individuals would be able to bring the actions under the New York False Claims Act.

“Empowering everyday New Yorkers with tools against illegal cannabis operators, whose conduct is both unlawful and inundates our communities with untested, unregulated and potentially deadly cannabis, is vital as we continue our enforcement efforts to combat illegal cannabis,” a justification memo attached to the bill says.

“Illegal cannabis operators undermine the legal cannabis industry in New York, whose cannabis processors,

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