Exclusive: New York City's crackdown on illegal pot shops

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Exclusive: Cracking down on illegal pot shops in NYC
CeFaan Kim has the exclusive story Operation Padlock to Protect.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Sheriff's Office is ramping up enforcement against illegal pot shops.

The crackdown has intensified since Governor Kathy Hochul in April gave the city the power to padlock stores after just one inspection.

The mayoral task force called Operation Padlock to Protect has been conducting sweeps of hundreds of shops and only Eyewitness News got an exclusive up-close look.

At one location in Far Rockaway, Queens, a dozen large trash bags full of edibles and tens of thousands of dollars worth of unregulated cannabis or flower were seized along with the sale of packaging, which indicates they're facilitating the sale of it out on the streets.

What's different now is the city's ability to seal a location. Previously, an operator could continue to run the business during a year-long appeal process. Now, within hours, it can be shuttered.

Sheriff Anthony Miranda says it's a game changer.

Before an illegal pot shop would open right back up after an inspection and he says the city's new powers have been serving as a deterrent because landlords found in violation can't even rent out the space for a year.

Some are evicting tenants on their own.

"I think everybody has been anticipating the change of authority and the fact that the community now knows we're taking this action, some locations are closing down voluntarily, other people are becoming more creative in how they engage in business, Miranda said.

Over in Jamaica, investigators found 50 pounds of unregulated flower and bags and bags full of edibles, plus mushrooms and liquid oxy.

Both are felonies and again. Packaging targeting minors was another violation.

This location was unusual because along with the illegal cannabis and hallucinogens being sold here, there's a phone shop in the front and a jewelry store as well, along with a tattoo shop in the back.

That makes sealing this location a little more complicated.

There are only 57 legal adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

The sheriff estimates there are almost 3,000 illegal pot shops in the city.

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