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Eric Adams vows crackdown on illegal NYC weed shops

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Mayor Eric Adams is on high alert — vowing a crackdown on the plethora of illicit cannabis shops that have sprouted up like weeds all across New York City, and which now threaten the viability of state-licensed operators that have yet to open.

Adams, during a Thursday City Hall press conference, said the legal weed market is “under threat” from the large black market and “counterfeit” sales flourishing throughout the five boroughs.

“Unlicensed cannabis stores are threatening a budding economic opportunity for our city,” Adams said.

“We can’t allow those who cut the line to undermine the legal market. Our goal is to get it right.”

The mayor, a retired police captain, said he was appalled after seeing the packaging for the cannabis products sold by illicit peddlers that appeal to youths, including two named after kids’ breakfast cereals — “Captain Crunch” and “Trix.”

Mayor Eric Adams, vowing crack down on unlicensed cannabis dealers, holds up “counterfeit” packaging.Paul Martinka for NY Post

They were on display at the press briefing as Adams held up two purple packages — one legal and one illegal — that looked exactly the same.

“We need to go back to Albany,” the mayor said, to get the legislature to outlaw the design and colors of packaging that appeal to underage kids.

“These graphics — they speak volumes of what’s being sold,” he said.

The New York City Sheriff’s Office cannabis task force recently conducted inspections at 53 locations of suspected unlicensed cannabis operators and issued 500 civil violations as well as 66 criminal court summonses.

More than 100,000 products were seized worth more than $4 million, said Sheriff Anthony Miranda at the same press conference.

“There are those who believe that this is going to become the Wild Wild West of cannabis selling. We are saying, clearly and loudly: no it is not. We are going to take steps to stop the unlicensed areas, stores that sell cannabis/illegal products,” Adams said.

“Our No. 1 goal. We must get it right because if you get it wrong you can endanger this industry. Not too many municipalities have gotten it right.”

Sheriff Miranda noted, “Not only are these establishments evading taxes and putting legal businesses at a disadvantage to succeed, the products they are selling have the potential to endanger the health and safety of the public.

“We remain especially concerned by the way these businesses have targeted underageconsumers by selling products that are marketed directly to children. In many instances,the Sheriff’s Office have seized illegal cannabis products with branding that appeals toyounger people with colorful brand names such as: Cheetos Infused Snacks, DoritosSpicy Nacho’s Medicated and Skittles, in addition to advertising gummies containingTHC products.”

Critics, among them state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), complained that current state law currently lacks the teeth necessary to weed out illicit operators.

But Adams, who was joined by Dasheeda Dawson, director of Cannabis NYC, an office of the city Department of Small Business Services, stopped short of saying he would seek additional penalties, saying merely officials are discussing ideas.

The black market is “frustrating” New York efforts to get the legal cannabis industry off the ground, said Chris Alexander, executive director of the state Office of Cannabis Management that regulates the budding industry.

State regulators recently awarded the first 36 licenses in New York to sell cannabis: 28 to retailers and eight to not-for-profit groups. None have yet opened.

One is expected to open near Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that each state-licensed licensed cannabis store will have a special verification emblem and each weed product will have a universal New York logo to prove they’re legit.

Still, critics say the roll-out of New York’s legal pre-roll sellers is turning into a bad trip.

One recent study claimed there are “likely tens of thousands of illicit cannabis businesses” currently operating out of bodegas, smoke shops and other storefronts in New York City — with some pop-up shops selling bad or dangerously tainted weed, a new study reveals.

The Post even discovered three unlicensed cannabis shop in sleepy Kew Gardens

A recent survey conducted by Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer’s office revealed that 26 of the 61 bodegas, delis and smoke shops checked were illicit cannabis sellers.



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