NYC Mayor Adams, Manhattan DA announce latest crack down on illegal weed shops
STATEN ISLAND, NY — Mayor Eric Adams and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday announced the city’s latest efforts to curb illicit marijuana stores that are hurting the fledgling legal market.
City officials filed complaints against four businesses operating as illegal smoking shops in and around the East Village. These stores are just a few of the hundreds of establishments across the five boroughs that are violating state laws that have allowed only two legal cannabis dispensaries to open in Manhattan.
“The legalization of cannabis was a huge step forward for equality and justice – but we will not take two steps backwards by allowing illegal smoking shops to take over this burgeoning market,” Adams said Tuesday. “We are fully focused on protecting the health and well-being of New Yorkers and ensuring this burgeoning industry serves those who deserve it most.”
A plainclothes NYPD officer escorted an underage assistant officer to each of the four stores, where she observed the minor purchase before making a purchase of her own, the complaints said.
The NYPD is now seeking to close these unlicensed facilities under the New York Harassment Control Act for the unlicensed sale of cannabis, also in violation of the New York State Marijuana Ordinance and Tax Code.
In addition to the city’s actions against the four Manhattan businesses, Bragg also announced that it had sent letters to 400 known Manhattan smoking stores warning them of possible evictions for illegal cannabis sales.
“For nearly two years, we’ve seen an increase in storefronts across Manhattan selling unlicensed, unregulated, and untaxed cannabis products,” Bragg said. “It’s time to end the operation of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries.”
The letters from Bragg’s office threaten civil action against the companies if they continue to operate as illegal cannabis dispensaries.
Only two businesses on Staten Island have obtained licenses to distribute cannabis, and last week New York Sheriff’s Office Anthony Miranda shared photos from his inspection of six local businesses that raked in nearly $20,000 in illicit goods.
Miranda, who joined the Manhattan Mayor and Attorney at Tuesday’s announcement, spoke to Advance/SILive.com after last week’s action and described the increase in smoke shops illegally selling cannabis as a “serious problem” that is affecting the community “is ubiquitous throughout the city.”
District Attorney Michael E. McMahon is also stepping up enforcement and advocating tougher penalties for offenders, according to a separate statement.
“Regardless of how you feel about the benefits of legal marijuana, there must be zero tolerance for the sale of cannabis products on the black market, especially for Staten Island’s most vulnerable young people,” McMahon said.
“Our state’s legal cannabis market will not function if the black market is allowed to proliferate, and my White Collar Crimes Bureau, Detective Investigators and Community Partnership Unit will continue to work with Staten Islanders to identify and retain owners of businesses hosting this activity Those disobeying the law are responsible and are removing these businesses from our neighborhoods.”
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