NYC Council member finds dozens of shops illegally selling pot in Manhattan

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Official finds dozens of shops illegally selling pot in Manhattan
Although marijuana use is legal in New York, some stores are accused of selling pot illegally in Manhattan. Darla Miles has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A disturbing trend is sprouting on the streets of New York City as marijuana is now legalized for use in New York, but not yet legal to sell in stores.

NYC Council member Gale Brewer has found several stores selling pot before it is legal to do so.

She said she found the state's drive to raise tax revenue from marijuana is creating some real problems.

"I hear complaints about the shops because they are concerned about the children going in and buying pot," Brewer said. "That's what I hear about endlessly. Why is there one near a school."

There are complaints about smoke shops popping up all over the Upper West Side.

"I would not have guessed, and I think I know things, that 61 smoke shops would open in, I swear it's been five months," Brewer said.

Of the 61 new smoke shops, Brewer said her team was able to walk right in and buy marijuana in 26 places, including bodegas and delis.

That's despite the fact that legal sales have yet to begin. It prompted Brewer to send a letter to the state, local law enforcement and state agencies about New York's cannabis rules, asking for ways to strengthen enforcement.

The letter said in part, "...absence of its enforcement in these early days threatens to undermine the law's intent before the legal market even takes shape."

"I don't think any of them, in fact I know they're not, are licensed to sell cannabis, but it appears as if they are," Brewer said.

Last week the Office of Cannabis Management announced in order to expedite legal sales, some dispensaries would be able to start making deliveries.

But there are other concerns that come with the influx of smoke shops, like one on the Upper West Side that was robbed twice in three days back in August.

And it's not the only one.

"Got robbed a couple of times, got broke in a couple of times, I see a lot of different people go in there," Jimmy Wray said.

The Office of Cannabis Management has sent out more than 50 cease and desist letters to illegal shops so far this year and says, "OCM will continue working with our state and local partners to cease operations from these illicit stores and we will work to provide legal and safe tested cannabis products by the end of the year."

"The state people spent so much time getting people who have convictions to be able to have the opportunity and the capital to open a shop," Brewer said. "And all of the sudden there would be an illegal matrix all around them. That's a problem because that's not fair."

ALSO READ | NYC Council Committee holds hearing on bill ending tenant criminal background checks

Janice Yu reports on today's committee hearing at NY City Hall.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.