Police in New York City will launch a major crackdown on unlicensed weed shops and the state legislature will propose legislation further empowering law enforcement to crack down on the illicit shops, officials said during a NYC Council hearing yesterday.
The council’s Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection held a hearing Wednesday, during which its members spoke with the city’s Sheriff’s Office, NYPD, Department of Health and other local agencies about a proliferation of unlicensed smoke shops selling weed in NYC.
“The taskforce is continuing, our operations are increasing, we are doubling – if not tripling – the enforcement that we have,” NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda said. “We want them to know the type of enforcement that’s going on so that they understand that we’re not going away.”
While the state’s most populous city has long boasted an illustrious underground weed market, its brick-and-mortar storefronts that sell untested cannabis (in addition to untaxed cigarettes and illegal flavored vape cartridges) have increased exponentially since the state legalized recreational adult-use in 2021, and only one legal shop has opened since then.
Mayor Eric Adams in December launched as a pilot program an interagency taskforce to address the sharp increase in illegal smoke shops. The task force includes the Sheriff’s Office, NYPD, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and the Office of Cannabis Management.
The group has identified at least 1,200 illicit weed shops, Miranda said, and has confiscated about $6 million of illegal products, including 600 pounds of weed, resulting in civil and criminal referrals.