New York’s illegal marijuana shops face surprise raids and hefty fines. Here’s what we saw on a tour.

New York’s illegal marijuana shops face surprise raids and hefty fines. Here’s what we saw on a tour.

New York’s illegal marijuana shops face surprise raids and hefty fines. Here’s what we saw on a tour.

NEW YORK — Three years later Recreational marijuana became legal in the stateUnlicensed dispensaries outnumber legal ones in New York City.

Now, with new authority, the city is cracking down.

The measure was taken without prior notice from the city.

On a sunny summer day in Staten Island, CBS New York joined New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda exclusively for a look inside the police force. That day, they headed to what was reportedly an unlicensed store.

“No one gets advance notice of where we’re going,” Miranda said. “What they’re doing is selling unregulated and dangerous products to the community.”

They stopped in front of a sex shop on Gulf Avenue. Mayor Eric Adams joined them to inspect some of the things officers found behind the counter.

“Guns, tobacco, cannabis,” Adams said.

In total, the city seized $19,000 worth of cannabis in boxes and bags and fined the sex shop $25,000.

“Every night there are a lot of people coming,” said neighbor Rahm Cherukuri, who owns the business next door. “Thank God the city is doing this.”

How the city says it prevents repeat offenders

What prevents an illegal business from paying its fine and selling the products again within a month?

“We have to make it more expensive to stop them from opening than to allow them to stay open,” Adams said.

Inspections have become much more common since May, after the mayor pushed the state to increase fines and give the sheriff the authority to lock down an unlicensed cannabis store on the premises, without Albany’s approval.

Since then, the sheriff has issued more than $43 million in fines and closed more than 500 stores, including a shopping arcade on Amboy Road.

“Our kids can come here and play a video game and all of a sudden they’re on their way to using cannabis,” Adams said.

Some tobacco shop owners have filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that the raids are a violation of their due process rights. Adams spoke about how legalizing marijuana in New York was intended to undo the effects of the war on drugs. He said it can be difficult to walk that line to make sure the law is enforced, but also that it is now being pushed back.

“That was one of our concerns when the first phase of cannabis legalization was done,” Adams said. “We don’t want to go backwards and the best way to do that is to be very strict and not allow these illegal shops to open everywhere.”

Law enforcement has a lot more work to do

Around 3,000 Unlicensed cannabis stores reportedly still exist throughout New York City.

A few days earlier, the sheriff They closed a distribution center in Brooklynwhere authorities found counterfeit labels and unregulated chemicals used to flavor the flower.

“People don’t smoke cannabis, they smoke chemicals,” Miranda said.

CBS New York’s last stop of the day was a tobacco shop on Richmond Hill Road.

“We can see they only have basic smoking paraphernalia,” said sheriff’s sergeant Craig McCusker.

At first everything seemed to be going well, but then we went to the back room. The officers inspecting the place first noticed a sliding door in the back room, and that led them to a bookshelf. Some misaligned panels made them suspicious, and with a little effort, they managed to open it and climb into the basement.

“When we went through the rooms, we could see that someone could be living in that place, and then we found this,” McCusker said, referring to “over $20,000 worth of marijuana hidden in the boiler room.” “You can tell it’s not just any store. The way they’re set up, they sell in large quantities.”

“People don’t buy products that are properly regulated”

McCusker said some of the product is 10 times more potent than what can be legally sold in New York.

“People are not buying properly regulated products and are not paying the proper taxes,” McCusker said.

The sheriff fined the Richmond Hill Road store $33,000 and will see the owner in court in two weeks.

“The long-term goal here is for the legal cannabis business to have the opportunity to push itself and do what it was designed to do and provide the city with the benefits that we all expect from it,” Miranda said.