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WKBW 7 News Buffalo

Proposal to crackdown on illegal cannabis shops

By Eileen Buckley,


In the Lovejoy Council District in Buffalo, some residents are complaining about illegal cannabis shops opening up in their neighborhoods.

Lovejoy District in Buffalo.

“One specifically in the Kaisertown neighborhood on Clinton Street — one day it was a bottle return factory to the next day — they were selling cannabis out of it.  There’s also one in my Schiller Park neighborhood — a lot of activity in the old Dairy Queen,” remarked Bryan Bollman, Lovejoy District Common Council member.

Bryan Bollman, Lovejoy District Common Council member.

Bollman tells me residents continue calling him asking what can be done about illegal pot shops.

This week Governor Kathy Hochul announced illegal dispensaries are unacceptable and additional enforcement is needed. She's proposing a bill that would crack down on illegal shops across the state.

“I think it's great. We've been struggling quite a bit with the roll-out of the legalization process because two strong of an illicit market is not good for legalization,” responded Aleece Burgio, attorney.

Aleece Burgio, attorney.

Burgio tells me even though marijuana is now legal for recreational use, dispensaries must be licensed and that hasn't happened yet in Western New York.

“Any of the stores you see in Buffalo that are contending to be a dispensary — they're illicit,” Burgio explained.

The governor's bill would shut down illegal cannabis stores and fine owners more than $10,000 a day.


I spoke with the operator of , which mailed fliers to residents for its business. The operator declined an interview and said there is "no physical shop" in the Buffalo area.

“The amount of money that these places are making is hand over fists — it's crazy,” declared Burgio.”A lot of these guys don't care. A lot of these guys are not going for legalized permits or licenses.”

Cannabis shop.

Burgio says it is a difficult situation for municipalities.

“There's this problem with who owns it. Is it the local police? Is it an office of cannabis management? What entity really has to come in and enforce it and i think that's been a big issue in general,” Burgio noted.

Lovejoy Council District.

In the meantime, Bollman is also sponsoring a resolution to also prevent stores from selling unregulated cannabis products.

“We're just staying these shops need to be licensed. We need to make sure the quality of the products that they are putting out to our residents is safe and the conditions in their stores are sanitary,” Bollman explained.

"A lot of studies that have come out that have said the illicit market because it's not being lab tested. There are tons of traces of metals. There are traces of E. coli, salmonella — things that you are not going to want to put into your body,” comment Burgio.

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