Mayor Eric Adams and Manhattan’s top prosecutor announced on Tuesday in a renewed effort to put an end to the burgeoning illegal cannabis market in New York City.
They said they would pursue landlords who permit hundreds of illegal stores to operate.
Alvin Bragg, the district attorney for Manhattan, revealed during a press conference with the mayor that his office had delivered notices of imminent eviction to more than 400 smoke shops that unlawfully sell marijuana.
His administration would try to compel property owners to evict the stores if shop owners would not stop operating.
It was the most recent attempt by law enforcement to compel the closure of illegal dispensaries that would jeopardize the state’s developing legal cannabis market, which has just recently started to take shape and is anticipated to increase.
Two years ago, the state approved the use of recreational marijuana, and “many folks considered that to mean that you can just open up a place any way you want,” according to Adams.
Numerous illegal marijuana dispensaries have sprung up, operating in the open and charging less than licensed dispensaries where the goods are heavily taxed.
Some estimates place the total number of illegal stores throughout the five boroughs of New York City at around 1,200.
The unlawful businesses are cashing in on a market that the mayor estimates might be worth $1.3 billion, which, if unaffected by unfair competition, could result in $40 million in annual tax revenues for the city.
The legalization of marijuana in New York came with laws, and those rules must be followed, according to Bragg.
In the letters, it is stated that the district attorney’s office is prepared to “start the eviction proceedings of commercial tenants who are involved in illegal trade or business,” with the addition that prosecutors would “take over such eviction” within five days of the written notice.
To close them down by the state’s new marijuana laws and the city’s nuisance and abatement legislation, the New York Police Department has filed lawsuits against four illegal marijuana businesses in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The city claimed that it took action after a decoy operation discovered evidence that the stores offered cannabis items to customers who were younger than 21, the state’s legal marijuana purchasing age.
In March 2021, the state approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and the Office of Cannabis Management was permitted to start developing a regulated market. People of color who prohibitionist laws had imprisoned will run the majority of the stores.
Of the 175 licenses the state intends to grant, 66 have already been given out. Only two stores have opened, but more are anticipated to do so shortly.
Bragg states, “those law-abiding firms confront fierce competition from shops.”
According to him, making sure that hazardous products, particularly those containing pollutants, do not enter the market is also a matter of safety.