New York Daily News •
Feb 07, 2023 at 1:36 pm
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Mayor Adams and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg put illegal cannabis shops on notice Tuesday that they will face eviction if they continue to break the law.
Adams, Bragg and several other top officials announced that prosecutors will now rely on a decades-old public nuisance law to evict businesses selling marijuana without a license.
Under the policy, building landlords and owners will be required to evict commercial tenants engaging in illegal drug sales. If they fail to do so, the Manhattan DA and the city sheriff’s office will assume responsibility for those evictions. Bragg’s office has notified approximately 400 smoke shops they are at risk of being thrown out.
“They will be evicted,” Mayor Adams said during a press conference on the Upper West Side. “New Yorkers have had enough.”
The new policy will rely on state property proceedings law, which permits sheriffs to carry out eviction proceedings once they’ve secured permission from a judge. As of Tuesday, the policy is limited to Manhattan, but Adams said he plans to discuss it with the city’s four other district attorneys and suggested it could be in the offing in the outer boroughs as well.
According to Bragg, illegal smoke shops are hurting the legal operations meant to benefit from legalized weed, which include people who were prosecuted under past drug laws.
“We want to give New York’s legal cannabis market a fair chance to thrive,” Bragg said.
The announcement Tuesday comes as New York and other municipalities in the state continue to adjust to a relatively new law that legalized the recreational consumption and sale of marijuana in 2021.
To sell weed legally under state law, purveyors must first acquire licenses from the state. The first dispensary in the Big Apple opened in December, but the vast majority of store-based weed merchants in the city are still operating without permission.
Those illegal operations — some of which market pot to kids — have prompted a crackdown from leaders like Adams, who announced last month that the city sheriff seized 600 pounds of illegal weed, and Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), who recently dispatched staffers to document the breadth of illegal sales in her district.
Adams noted that many of the shops targeted by law enforcement so far have resumed their operations — a sign they view the penalties as merely a “cost of doing business.”
Bragg expressed hope the city’s new weed policy will drive that cost up so high shops stop breaking the law and said his office would prioritize cases where it appears the most harm is being done.
“While we are not ruling out criminal prosecutions for tax evasion, money laundering or the sale of cannabis to minors, the focus of this initiative at this time is civil enforcement,” he said. “We want to give New York’s legal cannabis market a fair chance to thrive and give New Yorkers the security of knowing that a safe orderly system is in place.”
City officials also announced Tuesday that the city filed nuisance complaints against four East Village shops caught selling THC and cannabis products illegally to minors.