January 18, 2023 by Bobby Cuza

Recently, NY1 rode along with a law enforcement task force, led by the New York City Sheriff’s office, as it raided stores on the Upper West Side illegally selling marijuana.

But within days, according to Manhattan Councilmember Gale Brewer’s office, those same stores had simply re-stocked — a sign of the difficulty in stamping out the illegal market.

“The proliferation of cannabis retailers over the last 22 months has gone almost unchecked by the city and state,” Brewer said at a council hearing Wednesday.

“We need to shut these places down,” Queens Councilmember Lynn Schulman said.

The city has been trying to do just that. Mayor Eric Adams last month announced the seizure of more than $4.1 million worth of product during a two-week crackdown. The sheriff says authorities are now doubling, if not tripling, enforcement.

“The task force has continued,” Sheriff Anthony Miranda said. “So it did not stop after the two weeks. We’ve regrouped. We analyzed the information that we’ve received. And now we continue to go out.”

The City Council says its investigators found 11 illegal sellers operating near the city’s first licensed dispensary, run by the nonprofit Housing Works.

“Those operating without a license are devaluing the hard-fought licenses earned by individuals and nonprofits,” Bronx Councilmember Marjorie Velazquez said.

Meanwhile, the NYPD says robberies of smoke shops skyrocketed to nearly 600 last year, more than double the previous year’s total. And council members voiced concerns about products being marketed and sold to kids, as well as marijuana being laced with fentanyl or other drugs.

“I do have teenagers using credit cards to buy weed at illegal smoke shops in my district,” Manhattan Councilmember Carlina Rivera said. “So there has to be some sort of comprehensive effort.”

“These products, they have cartoon characters on them,” Manhattan Councilmember Julie Menin said. “They’re in colorful packets. They have names that appeal to young kids.”

Miranda says the city is working on new approaches like going after copyright infringement and tax violations, and will begin notifying property owners that their tenant is engaged in illegal activity.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering legislation to give the state’s marijuana laws more teeth.

For now, the Housing Works dispensary at Broadway and East 8th Street is the only licensed dispensary operating in the city, but many more are coming online soon, including one on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village that’s expected to open next week.

Read here: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2023/01/19/city-council-members-push-for-more-forceful-response-to-illegal-cannabis-sales