NYC Mayor Adams On The Weed Warpath: $6M In Fines, 75 Closures, 4000 Illicit Shop Violations In First Week Of 'Operation Padlock To Protect'

Zinger Key Points
  • The multi-agency operation kicked off last week across NYC's five boroughs to close down illicit smoke and cannabis shops
  • NYC Mayor Adams' "Operation Padlock to Protect" seeks to make a dent in the city's nearly 3,000 illicit weed shops.

Dozens of illicit smoke shops have been shut down across New York City during the first week of what Mayor Eric Adams dubbed “Operation Padlock to Protect,” a sustained multi-agency enforcement effort to shut down illegal smoke and cannabis shops across the Big Apple's five boroughs.

The task force, which includes the NYPD, the sheriff’s office and the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, has shut down 75 illegal smoke shops, issued nearly $6 million in penalties and found nearly 4,000 violations.

Following New York state's budget agreement in April that gave municipalities full regulatory authority to shut down illegal shops, Adams moved quickly to form Operation Padlock.

"Week one of ‘Operation Padlock to Protect,' reaffirms what we've long said: With the backing of legal authority behind us, our administration will act swiftly to combat illegal cannabis and smoke shop operators," Adams said at a press briefing. "We will help usher in a thriving, safe, and just legal cannabis market that our city deserves while protecting our city's children, families, and vibrant business districts from being subjected to these brazen storefronts." 

Sheriff Anthony Miranda and law enforcement agents padlock illicit cannabis shop. Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor’s office.

A Monumental Task

New York’s now three-year legalization of recreational cannabis was meant to allow interested parties to apply for licenses to sell New York-grown and regulated marijuana. However, New York's legal cannabis market has been plagued with lawsuits, delays and regulatory inconsistencies.

Governor Kathy Hochul recently released a scathing internal report about the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), fired its director Chris Alexander and then announced a complete OCM overhaul with a vow to "unclog the licensing bottleneck."

While the chaos that became the common description of NY's cannabis program persisted, illicit smoke shops and illegal operations filled the vacuum all over NYC's five boroughs.

At last count, there were approximately 2,900 illegal smoke shops in New York City alone.

"There is no ambiguity in the law: it is illegal to sell cannabis without a license. For the first time, ambiguity on how to enforce the law is now gone," said New York City council member Gale A. Brewer. "I wholeheartedly support the state cannabis law and am dedicated to its success." 

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor’s office. Police seize illegal cannabis in raid.

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsTop StoriesGale A. BrewerGov Kathy Hochulillicit smoke shopsMayor Eric AdamsNew York Cannabis
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