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Cannabis cops uproot illegal weed shop in heart of Queens business district

Published May 12, 2024, 7:21 p.m. ET

The city’s cannabis cops have raided and shuttered an illegal pot shop in the heart of a Queens neighborhood’s business district as part of Mayor Eric Adams’ newly announced crackdown on scofflaws.

The Big Apple Sheriff’s Office and NYPD closed the unlicensed “Western Green” smoke shop at 81-27 Lefferts Blvd. in Kew Gardens on Thursday.

Authorities confiscated bags of illegal marijuana — including flower and edibles in catchy packaging marketed to young people. 

NYPD officers raiding the “Western Green” unlicensed cannabis shop in Kew Gardens, Queens on May 9, 2024.Carl Campanile/NY Post

The raid was part of the crackdown announced by Adams last week to enforce a tougher new state law that makes it easier to padlock an estimated 2,900 unlicensed cannabis shops in the city.

Civic leaders on Community Board 9 — which includes Kew Gardens — said last week they would oppose the opening of new state-licensed marijuana shops in the area until all of the illegal smoke shops are closed.

“The cannabis cops are out there. I saw them close a place on Linden Boulevard,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said Sunday.

“A lot of the illegal stores are going up in puff,” he said. “Other stores are taking their signs down to disguise their illegal selling.”

Cannabis products seized by police during the raid in Queens.Carl Campanile/NY Post

But Richards said authorities are still “behind the eight ball,” given that so many unlicensed stores are out there — dwarfing the 56 licensed pot suppliers in the city and a total of 122 statewide.

A Post reporter on hand during the raid at the Lefferts Boulevard shop was shown a pink, yellow and blue “Malibu Cherry Pie” package containing flowered marijuana — featuring a picture of Barbie on the cover.

The back of the package claims the pot was manufactured in Malibu, Calif.

The smoke shop didn’t even bother to post a fake “certificate of authority” that legal shops are supposed to show to operate a store on the premises, said Sgt. Craig McCosker of the city Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re not paying taxes,” McCosker said of the rogue operations.

One of the products from the cannabis shop featured a picture of Barbie on the front.Carl Campanile/NY Post

Licensed cannabis dispensaries must pay hefty taxes and buy weed from licensed cultivators and processors.

The illegal weed is coming from California, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East, sources said.

The enforcers also found flavored vapes that are outlawed

Up the hill just blocks away, an illegal “Pre-Roll” store on Jamaica Avenue sold cannabis in packaging labeled “Stewart’s Fountain Classics” with a picture of an “Orange’n Cream” ice cream stick.

A cannabis product for sale at the unlicensed “Pre-Roll” store several blocks from the raid.Obtained by the NY Post

By comparison, New York’s licensed cannabis sellers are barred from selling any THC-products  in packaging that could attract youths.

The Office of Cannabis Management sent out a notice last week to licensed cannabis stores to pull Packwoods/Packs products that include a photo or image that looks like the red-wax-drip emblem put on the bottles of Maker’s Mark bourbon.

“The issue pertains to the appearance of the packaging cap, which features a `paint drip’ motif that they appeal to individuals under the age of 21,” the OCM said in a letter to one licensed cannabis store.

Gov. Kathy Hochul called for an overhaul of OCM to speed up licensing of legal cannabis stores after her office released a damning report Friday about the agency’s performance.



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