Robert was willing to take more time out of his day, and pay more, to buy cannabis gummies at a licensed, legal dispensary called Union Square Travel Agency.

Robert, who requested to be identified only by his first name, claims that cannabis he had bought from an unlicensed pot shop led him to test positive for fentanyl.

“I’m willing to pay a little bit more because it’s clean,” Robert said. For the weed, he says, was laced with fentanyl: “I was shocked, I was like, in the weed? You got to be kidding me.”

What You Need To Know

  • The law prohibits landlords from knowingly renting out commercial space to unlicensed dispensaries that sell cannabis or tobacco products

  • A violation of the law comes with a $5,000 fine for the first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense

  • City officials estimate there are about 8,000 unlicensed, illegal smoke shops in the city

Supporters of the legal marijuana market in New York say this is why it’s crucial to stop illegal dispensaries from opening up - along with the crime and violence they attract and the missing tax revenue from licensed operators.

In the latest effort to stop unlicensed cannabis dispensaries from opening, city lawmakers went after the landlords, not the illegal operators themselves.

A law now, in effect, explicitly prohibits landlords from knowingly renting to illegal dispensaries that cannabis or tobacco products.

But how does a landlord officially know their commercial tenant is selling marijuana without a license?

From a letter following a raid from the sheriff’s office or the NYPD.

“The landlord gets a letter from the city saying you’re renting to an entity that’s conducting illegal business and we want you to evict them,” Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, a Queens Democrat who was the prime sponsor of the law, said.

Then, there is supposed to be a follow up.

“When there’s a re-inspection of that premises, they’ll get another notice. After that, then they’ll get fined,” Schulman said.

That fine — $5,000 dollars for the first violation and $10,000 for subsequent violations. The fines go through the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

“The administrative mechanism that the legislation uses is really designed to get the landlord’s attention and to have a real shot at enforcement here,” Simon Malinowski, a partner at Harris Bricken and the firm’s lead New York cannabis attorney, said. “Addressing the underlying real estate issue is a smart way of addressing it and the legislation really provides landlords an opportunity to respond,” Malinowski said.

Landlords can defend themselves against alleged violations by showing that they started eviction proceedings against the illegal dispensary.

The law has the backing of the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents property owners.