For months, city and state officials have struggled to snuff out the illegal sales of marijuana taking place across the city.
A recent crackdown has had limited impact, so authorities are now turning to a new tool: threatening businesses with eviction.
What You Need To Know
- City and state officials on Tuesday announced a new legal strategy to crack down on illegal marijuana retailers
- Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his office warned 400 smoke shops in Manhattan they could be subject to eviction
- Meanwhile, the NYPD filed suit against four East Village shops that allegedly sold cannabis to underage auxiliary officers
- Teams led by the city Sheriff’s Office have recently seized cannabis products and issued fines against smoke shops, but some resumed illegal sales within days
“Just as the end of alcohol prohibition in the 1930s didn’t mean just anyone could start selling homemade bathtub gin to their local store, marijuana legalization in New York came with rules, and those rules must be respected,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.
At a news conference Tuesday, Bragg was joined by Mayor Eric Adams and other city and state officials to announce the new legal strategy, which would impose much harsher consequences than had been previously deployed.
Bragg said his office sent letters to 400 smoke shops in Manhattan warning that landlords will be required to evict any store engaging in illegal activity. If the landlord fails to comply, the DA’s office will bring its own eviction proceeding.
Meanwhile, the NYPD on Tuesday filed suit against four shops in the East Village that allegedly sold cannabis to underage auxiliary officers. The nuisance abatement filings seek to shut those businesses down.
“Those who are selling illegal cannabis — they have no regard if you’re selling it to minors or anyone else,” Adams said. “This is a real issue that we are zeroing in on.”
In recent months, teams led by the city Sheriff’s Office have raided stores, seizing cannabis products and issuing fines. But some stores have resumed illegal sales within days.
“The stores are still there,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said. “Why is that? They’re making so much money that they are seeing the lost product and the fines they’re paying as just a cost of doing business. And they’re continuing to operate. Now, this strategy of taking their leases, that’s a whole other level.”
Officials have long pointed to the fact that unlicensed products target young people, may contain contaminants and undermine the legal dispensaries now beginning to open their doors.
“The city’s message to any business that thinks it can harm our communities and turn a blind eye to the law is: ‘we’ll see you in court,’” Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the city’s corporation counsel, said.