Eric Adams vows to crack down on illegal weed shops in NYC

Mayor Eric Adams is on high alert – vowing a crackdown on the plethora of illegal cannabis stores that have sprung up across New York City and are now threatening the viability of state-licensed operators who have yet to open.

Adams said during a press conference at City Hall on Thursday that the legal weed market is “threatened” by the large black market and sales of “fake” that are thriving in the five boroughs.

“Unlicensed cannabis stores threaten a burgeoning economic opportunity for our city,” Adams said.

“We cannot allow those who cross the border to undermine the legitimate market. Our goal is to get it right.”

The mayor, a retired police captain, said he was horrified to see the packaging of cannabis products sold by illegal peddlers that appeal to youth, including two named after children’s breakfast cereals – “Captain Crunch” and “Trix “.

Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams, who vowed to crack down on unlicensed cannabis dealers, holds up “counterfeit” packaging.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

They were on display at the press conference when Adams held up two purple packets – one legal and one illegal – that looked exactly the same.

“We need to go back to Albany,” the mayor said, to get lawmakers to ban the design and colors of packaging that appeal to minors.

illegal cannabis products.
Mayor Eric Adams displays packaging of confiscated grain-branded cannabis products marketed to youth.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

“Those graphics — they speak volumes about what’s selling,” he said.

The New York Sheriff’s Office Cannabis Task Force recently conducted inspections at 53 locations of suspected unlicensed cannabis operators and issued 500 civil violations and 66 criminal court summonses.

More than 100,000 products worth more than $4 million have been seized, Sheriff Anthony Miranda said at the same news conference.

“There are those who believe this is going to be the Wild Wild West of cannabis sales. We say clearly and loudly: No, it’s not. We will take steps to stop the unlicensed areas, stores selling cannabis/illegal products,” Adams said.

“Our #1 goal. We have to get it right because if you get it wrong, you can jeopardize this industry. Not too many municipalities got it right.”

Sheriff Miranda noted, “Not only do these establishments evade taxes and discriminate against legitimate businesses in order to thrive, the products they sell have the potential to endanger the health and safety of the public.

“We remain particularly concerned about the way these companies are targeting minors
Consumers through the sale of products that are marketed directly to children. in many instances,
The Sheriff’s Office has seized illegally branded cannabis products
younger folks with colorful brand names like: Cheetos Infused Snacks, Doritos
Spicy Nachos Medicated and Skittles, in addition to containing promotional gummies
THC products.”

NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda.
NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda is leading the crackdown on unlicensed cannabis operators.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post
Dasheeda Dawson.
Dasheeda Dawson runs Cannabis NYC, the Office for the Promotion of Legal Cannabis.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

Critics, including Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), complained that current state law currently lacks the teeth needed to weed out illegal operators.

But Adams, who was accompanied by Dasheeda Dawson, director of Cannabis NYC, an office of the city’s Department of Small Business, paused to say he would seek additional penalties, saying only officials are discussing ideas.

The black market is “frustrating” New York’s efforts to kickstart the legal cannabis industry, said Chris Alexander, executive director of the State Office of Cannabis Management, which regulates the burgeoning industry.

State regulators recently issued the first 36 licenses in New York to sell cannabis: 28 to retailers and eight to non-profit groups. None are open yet.

NYS Bureau of Cannabis Management.
The State Office of Cannabis Management regulates the emerging industry and has an enforcement unit.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

One is expected to open near Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that every state licensed cannabis retail store will have a special verification emblem and every cannabis product will have a universal New York logo to prove it’s legitimate.

However, critics say the introduction of New York’s legal pre-roll vendors is turning into a bad trip.

A recent study claims that there are currently “probably tens of thousands of illegal cannabis businesses” operating in bodegas, smoke shops and other storefronts in New York City — with some pop-up shops selling bad or dangerously tainted weed, like a new study shows.

The Post even uncovered three unlicensed cannabis shops in sleepy Kew Gardens.

A recent survey by Upper West Side City Councilwoman Gale Brewer’s office found that 26 of the 61 bodegas, delis and smokers checked were illegal cannabis sellers. Eric Adams vows to crack down on illegal weed shops in NYC


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