NYC Mayor Adams Warns Illicit Cannabis Operators 'We Have A Lock With Your Name On It'

Zinger Key Points
  • NYC's law enforcement shut down 20 unlicensed cannabis shops as Mayor Adams announces crackdown on illicit operators.
  • Adams says illicit shops are to blame for crime and quality issues. Legislation may increase penalties for illegal stores.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams ordered the city’s police to shut down 20 stores on Tuesday, the first day of new efforts to dismantle illicit cannabis operations in the Big Apple.

"The illegal shops … have become a magnet for crime, they have become a magnet for quality of life issues that we have faced in this city (…) Our message is clear: We want to close them down," said Adams in a press conference that included a live demonstration of a raid on a Lower Manhattan shop. "We have a lock with your name on it," he warned the hundreds of offending shop owners throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

Sheriff Anthony Miranda, overseeing the raid via a live feed with intermittent connectivity issues, targeted the New City Smoke Shop on Church St., just steps away from City Hall. According to Miranda, the store was found selling unlicensed cannabis, cigarettes and even mushrooms with packaging designed to appeal to younger demographics. “They are violating every statute under the new laws and protections we have,” Miranda stated.

More Power To Law Enforcement

The authority to clamp down on these illegal operations was granted in the fiscal year 2025 state budget approved in April, enhancing local law enforcement’s capabilities. Notably, the budget allows the sheriff’s office and NY police department (NYPD) to close unlicensed cannabis stores for up to a year. However, Mayor Adams clarified that the NYPD would need to be deputized by the sheriff’s office to conduct such raids.

Adams also addressed the ongoing challenge of these illegal shops, tempering expectations about the speed of their eradication despite new powers. He explained that while significant progress would be made, the battle against unlicensed cannabis operators will be ongoing. Illegal shops in NYC are believed to have risen to an astonishing 1500.

The mayor’s remarks come after previously stating his plan to shut all of the city’s unlicensed cannabis outlets within 30 days, should the authority be granted. “On the 31st day, don't expect all unlicensed shops to be gone,” he publicly retracted, stressing the need for continual enforcement efforts. 

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Struggle Against Unlicensed Cannabis Sales Intensifies

New York lawmakers are considering new legislation that would increase penalties for stores caught selling unlicensed cannabis. Under the proposed bill, S8847, businesses found possessing or selling illegal cannabis could lose their licenses to sell cigarettes, alcohol, and lottery tickets. All of which are essential licenses to small businesses selling cannabis on the side for an extra profit. 

In this ongoing effort, Governor Kathy Hochul previously proposed measures that would empower state authorities to close down illegal pot shops and impose fines up to $200,000. In 2022 a substantial $200 million public-private fund was created to support social equity applicants, aiming to ensure a fair and equitable roll-out of the legal cannabis market.

Now read: Cannabis Saga In The Empire State: Corruption Or Ineptitude? Private Equity Tramples Social Equity, Report Reveals

Photo courtesy of OCM

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsCannabisEric AdamsGovernor HochulNew York City
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