Monday, June 10, 2024

The ongoing efforts to shutter unlicensed weed shops

Local law enforcement (under the New York City Sheriff's Joint Compliance Task Force) continues to crack down on unlicensed weed/smoke shops. 

For example, this past Thursday, authorities closed Smoke City Exotics at 166 Avenue B between 10th Street and 11th Street... well as the oft-busted storefront at 24 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street...
On May 7, Mayor Adams announced the launch of Operation Padlock to Protect "to hold illegal smoke and cannabis shops accountable." 

After the first week, City Hall said that they had closed and sealed 75 shops and issued nearly $6 million in penalties. (And in the first month, the closure tally passed the 300-store mark.) 

In the past, some businesses were back in operation a day or two later, or they used evasive tactics such as removing the signage and only opening late at night when ownership figured they were safe from raids. 

The Task Force closed Hi Society at 97 Second Ave. between Fifth Street and Sixth Street on May 22. The shop, which had a velvet rope and doorman, was open the next day. The Task Force returned, and the shop has been shuttered ever since, with seven "seized" posters on the storefront.
Over the weekend, Colin Moynihan did a deep dive for the Times on the concern over the proliferation of unlicensed stores on the Lower East Side. The story includes local residents who "created a spreadsheet listing the locations of nearly three dozen unlicensed sellers, which they said they distributed to government officials, hoping to prompt enforcement." 

Some background from the article, which you can access here
Nearly 3,000 unlicensed cannabis stores are estimated to have opened across New York City since 2021, when a state bill was passed legalizing recreational marijuana and allowing for the distribution of retail cannabis licenses. There are 132 licensed adult-use dispensaries across the state, according to the Office of Cannabis Management, with 62 in the city. 
... and... 
... the rollout of the licensed shops has stumbled, tripped up by lawsuits, bureaucratic delays and a lack of financial assistance for retailers. At one point, policymakers promised to provide turnkey storefronts for new business owners. Those promises never came through. 

The article quotes Jeffrey Hoffman, a cannabis lawyer and legalization advocate who supports closing the unlicensed shops. Given their numbers and the clandestine actions of some of the operators, he predicted it would take months or longer to shut down all the unlicensed shops.

Meanwhile, what will happen to all the storefronts that landlords previously leased to illegal cannabis businesses? 


Photos 1 & 3 — Salim
Photo 2 — Steven
Photos 4 & 5 — EVG


noble neolani said...

The city has found a new cash cow, so why bother to tighten the laws regarding these "fronts".

Sleepless in EV said...

Regulate the legal shops just as you would liquor stores. Simple as that.
Close all the illegal shops.
And, drop the altruistic nonsense of allowing former users first access to licensing.

Bart said...

Can anything be done about the appearance of these stores? Most of them are so ugly and tacky. They make every neighborhood look like Times Square.

Ade said...

Agree Bart, in 50 years I doubt there will be any nostalgic coffee table books of "NYC weed shop storefronts".
If weed is meant to open up the creative parts of the brain, the store design part of the brain is being bypassed.

Shadowwhispers said...

And nothing of value was lost.

As to the stores being tacky looking, they have to appeal to the toddler like aesthetic sensibilities of your average pot head. So no, nothing can be done.

Paul said...

I believe that licensed stores are required to meet a defined set of visual standards in part to ensure they are not visually pitching to children. Once the unlicensed stores shake out this should all settle down. Hell of a boon for NY sign makers right now though, hey?

Scuba Diva said...

At 12:54 PM, Ade said:

Agree Bart, in 50 years I doubt there will be any nostalgic coffee table books of "NYC weed shop storefronts".

If weed is meant to open up the creative parts of the brain, the store design part of the brain is being bypassed.

When I first came to the city, there were still "head shops," and as with weed shops, there were no memorable designs of those either; it seems the point isn't to wow the user with memorable design—or even to waste money on a design budget when the whole point is getting the product out there.

XTC said...

Hi Society went bye society quicker than a crackhead sucking down a hit on his pipe.