City Gets Power to Padlock Illicit Pot Shops

City officials have been asking for more power to address illegal smoke shops for months. Finally, their wish was granted through the state budget.

Once the budget law is in effect, New York City will start including the NYPD in the effort to enforce laws against illegal smoke shops. Other cities in the state will also have the opportunity to pass new laws to close down these shops.

“We have been waiting for a long time to address the issue of illegal shops, and now the day has finally arrived,” Governor Kathy Hochul said on Friday. “I am using the state budget to provide the necessary resources to state and local authorities to permanently close down these illegal shops.” The bill will make changes to the New York City Administrative Code, giving the city the ability to take action quickly.

“Here in New York City, I want to make it clear that enforcement will begin right away, with the New York City Sheriff’s Office taking charge,” stated Hochul. “They will increase enforcement and allocate additional resources to this.” The Sheriff’s Office can ask the NYPD for help with enforcing the law.

City Hall has confirmed that the NYPD will be given the authority to enforce laws. This process will start once the budget is finalized. “These actions, along with strong enforcement efforts, will help maintain fairness and address the problems that have arisen due to the increasing number of illegal storefronts in our city,” Adams stated.

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The amendment will give the city the authority to inspect stores, issue violations, seize cannabis, and padlock stores. The governor’s office announced that New York City will be able to hold administrative hearings within five days after closing a store, and a decision will be given within four days after the hearing.

“The padlock goes on right away,” Hochul said.

Mayor Eric Adams has been a strong supporter of the measures provided by the amendment. He has previously stated that with this law, he could close down all illegal shops within 30 days.

“You will be locked out if you keep trying to sell illegal items,” he warned the operators of illegal smoke shops. “This is an important moment for our city as we recognize the problem and efficiently utilize the government to implement the necessary measures to solve it.”

Illegal shops opening on local streets have been a major concern in the city for over a year. Elected officials and Community Boards have been trying to prevent their proliferation.

Officials and local residents have strongly opposed the owners of illegal shops. On Friday, Hochul referred to them as “widespread troublemakers.”

“The people who operate these illegal shops lie about what’s in their products through false advertising, because they don’t actually care about your health,” she said. “They will get their product from any location because they have no concern for farmers in New York. They will sell cannabis gummy rings, ice cream cones, and chocolate bars without considering the well-being of your children. Additionally, they will avoid paying taxes because they have no regard for the communities in which they do business.”

Both Hochul and Adams disagreed with the idea that increasing enforcement would lead to a return of the excessive and often racially biased policing of cannabis that occurred before it was legalized.

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