NYC officials propose new legislation that would make it easier to shut down illegal cannabis shops

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Friday, November 3, 2023
NYC considering new measure to easily shut down illegal cannabis shops
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Crystal Cranmore has the latest on the cannabis shops.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new proposal is being considered by New York City Council that would make it easier to close the numerous illegal cannabis shops that have popped up throughout the city.

City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers introduced a new legislation on Thursday that amends the city's Nuisance Abatement Law (NAL) to make it easier and quicker to shut down the shops.

The NYC Sheriff's Office estimates that there are currently about 1,500 illegal shops operating in the city, compared to 11 legal shops across the city and only 26 in the entire state.

"We must take action to shut down the hundreds of illegal cannabis shops that are sprouting like weeds across our city," said Powers. "The legislation introduced today will provide the city with an additional tool to close down illegal shops in an efficient and methodical manner, as opposed to the current game of whack-a-mole. I look forward to working with my colleagues at the City Council to quickly pass this important legislation."

Currently, illegal cannabis shops are subject to up to $20,000 a day in fines, but this has failed to stop them from mushrooming across the city.

In the West Village, Councilman Erik Bottcher says his office has received a number of complaints against Wolf Exotics selling marijuana illegally.

When asked about the complaints, Eyewitness News received blank stares and no comment from the employees there.

Another shop denied Councilman Bottcher's allegations.

In a recent oversight hearing, the head of the Office of Cannabis Management stated that for many large-scale operations, especially those linked to organized crime, the fines are simply "the cost of doing business."

Amending the NAL to allow for expedited closures of the shops will provide authorities with an additional tool to halt their spread.

"A legal, regulated cannabis market is critical for public safety and economic growth," said District Attorney Alvin Bragg. "Thank you to the Council Members who are sponsoring this new legislation that will allow for the expedited closure of illegal shops. The Manhattan D.A.'s Office will continue using every tool at our disposal to proactively address unlicensed cannabis shops in the borough."

Earlier this year, a city law was approved that allowed authorities to go after landlords who rent store space to illegal cannabis or tobacco sellers.

Landlords face initial fines of $5,000 and then $10,000 following inspection thereafter.

Between that and Councilman Power's bill, they hope to weed out the problem.

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