“This cannabis stuff is a real problem!” NYC Mayor Eric Adams begs Gov. Hochul to crack down on illegal pot shops as more than 1,500 pop up in the Big Apple and “make a mockery of our system”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams has pleaded for Governor Hochul to crack down on the more than 1,500 illegal pot shops that have infiltrated the Big Apple.
During a Tuesday press conference at City Hall, Adams slammed illegal weed sellers and state laws that cap fines at $250. ‘We go in, we do enforcement,’ he said, but added that ‘police officers can’t take the necessary action’ to curb the issue.
‘This cannabis stuff is a real problem! And we must make sure that we can’t have people [make] a mockery of our system!’
New York legalized recreational marijuana in March 2021 and opened its first legal shop in December 2022.
Shops that don’t follow the law get hit with a criminal court summons and a paltry fine. The mayor is now asking Albany to make it easier for city authorities to crack down on illegal shops and increase fines.
Adams also addressed his concerns about young people getting targeted by illegal merchants.
‘Children are getting high on their way to school … children are taking these gummy bears,’ he said. ‘I must be old-fashioned. People don’t realize what’s happening in our country and in our city. We have to start refocusing!’
Jungle Boys, an unlicensed weed shop that opened in the fall across from City Hall, was hit with a $50,000 fine and had $175,000 of weed products seized, The New York Post reported.
The landlord said he was unaware Jungle Boys was breaking any laws and said, as per the lease, any ‘illegal activity’ is prohibited, the news outlet reported.
The store was raided three times in December and January. During one raid a staffer was arrested for allegedly selling weed to a minor.
One of the store’s sellers told the Post that ‘if we were worried, we wouldn’t be selling this product.’
On Wednesday, DailyMail.com saw the store was locked with its sign removed, and its glass shelves sitting empty. It is unclear if the shop was permanently shuttered.
The unlicensed smoke shop also sold chips, candy and snacks seen on the shelves
Licensed stores selling cannabis are prohibited from promoting their items with attractive packaging or colors, but many illicit shops have been peddling their products and displaying items with names like ‘Cotton Cluster,’ according to the Post.
‘These children are waking up in the morning, going into the store, getting gummy bears that’s laced with marijuana, and then they’re going to go in school and learn? And they’re opening up all around us?’ the mayor said.
‘No, no, no! We are losing our grip. And because I say no to that, I got to be the bad guy. No! I just know what it takes to raise healthy children and families and we have created an environment in this city and country where we are harming our children,’ he said.
The weed shops have also become prime targets for robberies, with the NYPD responding to a string of shootings across the city in the last month.
‘We always talk about build a better planet for our children, we have to build better children for our planet,’ Adams said.
The NYC mayor noted that his office is putting a package [of bills] together that will focus on cannabis so the proliferation of illicit shops ‘does not get out of hand.’
He also said, ‘we need to be targeting these landlords who are knowingly renting the space.’
For his own part, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has vowed to take action against landlords who knowingly lease space to unlicensed weed sellers, and city sheriff Anthony Miranda’s office has seized more than $4 million in illegal products.
Housing Works Cannabis Co in the East Village opened in December 2022 as the first dispensary in the state since the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in March 2021.
The grand opening drew more than 500 customers, forcing the nonprofit to turn people away, even eager patrons who waited nearly four hours.
There are 66 licensed retail dispensaries – approved by New York’s Cannabis Control Board – across the state, Silive reported.
The Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses dictate that dispensaries must be owned by equity-entrepreneurs with a prior cannabis-related criminal offense, who also have a background owning and operating a small business.
Last month, 30 licenses were awarded to individuals in NYC – 15 in Manhattan, six in Long Island, and three in Washington, according to the state.
Of that number 28 went to individuals and two went to nonprofits.