Cracking down on NYC's illegal marijuana dispensaries amid spike in crime

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Hundreds of smoke shops in New York City were put on notice Tuesday they could face eviction for illegal cannabis sales.

The first legal dispensaries opened in recent weeks and since then, city officials said there has been a proliferation of illegal, unlicensed shops also selling cannabis products.

Authorities estimate some 1,400 shops are now selling marijuana in the five boroughs, and virtually all of them are doing so illegally.

"Not just anyone can sell just because it's legal," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Tuesday.

Bragg sent letters to some 400 smoke shops that warn them of potential eviction proceedings for unlawful cannabis sales. The DA's letter cited a law that required evictions of commercial tenants involved in unlicensed cannabis sales.

"You can't just open a shop," said Mayor Eric Adams, who joined Bragg and also announced four enforcement actions by the city.

Eyewitness News cameras were rolling Tuesday as the sheriff's department raided a shop in Greenwich Village. Investigators took pictures and confiscated items under the green glow of a neon sign reading Cannabis Dispensary even though it is not a legal store.

The mayor said unregulated smoke shops have become magnets for robberies and often sell products laced with other drugs.

Eyewitness News is tracking crime and safety across New York City and in your neighborhood

The NYPD released video of a recent robbery at a smoke shop in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

The video shows one of the suspects taking a hammer from behind the counter of "Hubble Bubble" on Avenue P Thursday morning and threatening employees with it.

Investigators say he demanded CBD products. The suspects seen in the video then punched a 30-year-old worker multiple times.

They made off with cash and about $800 worth of cannabis products.

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