New York Finally Goes After Illegal Smoke and Cannabis Shops

Members of law enforcement seize illegal cannabis being sold during a raid as part of “Operation Padlock to Protect.”

New York City ordered dozens of illegal smoke shops shut in what Mayor Eric Adams calls “Operation Padlock to Protect.”


New York City ordered dozens of illegal smoke shops shut in what Mayor Eric Adams calls “Operation Padlock to Protect.”

The task force, including the NYPD, the NYC Sheriff’s Office, and the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, ordered 75 illegal smoke shops to shut down. The task force issued nearly $6 million in penalties, with almost 4,000 violations.

The Mayor has vowed to shut down smoke shops selling illegal cannabis products. According to ABC News, there are approximately 2,900 illegal smoke shops in New York City.

One location on Sixth Avenue and 12th Street racked up $84,000 worth of fines after being busted with nearly $55,000 worth of illegal cannabis.

According to the Mayor’s office, the task force conducted 150 inspections of unlicensed locations allegedly selling cannabis, THC edibles and vape, untaxed cigarettes (by many corner bodega deli’s, which are also a hotbed for crime affecting the local neighborhoods) and other tobacco products in the confines of the NYPD’s eight borough commands. The inspections resulted in Seventy-seven cease-and-desist orders, 75 shops being sealed, 370 notices of violations holding 3,878 counts of violations across NYPD, DCWP, and the Sheriff’s Office, and more than $5,960,000 in civil penalties being issued.

“For too long, illegal operators have posed a threat to our children, our public safety, and our quality of life, and they have undermined those justice-involved, legal businesses that are trying to succeed,” said Mayor Adams. “With this coordinated and sustained multi-agency enforcement, we will help usher in a thriving, safe, and just legal cannabis market that our city deserves while protecting our city’s children, families, and vibrant business districts from being subjected to these brazen storefronts.”

Several local leaders applauded the results of the new task force:

“Unlicensed pot shops have been showing up next to our homes, schools, and community centers, and since we first called for the city to intervene eighteen months ago, the NYPD has worked diligently to investigate and shut these illegal operations down,” said U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island and South Brooklyn). “Many in our community oppose marijuana shops authorized by the state, and the last thing we need is additional illegal dispensaries operating on our street corners, especially when the products they are selling are not being regulated. We appreciate the city’s efforts to crack down on these illegal operations and enact swift consequences for those putting public health and safety at risk.”

“We have taken aggressive action against illegal cannabis merchants who are undercutting legal vendors, denying badly needed tax revenues for essential public services, and are the focus of numerous community complaints,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. “We’ve commenced eviction proceedings against dozens of illegal cannabis dispensaries, which can be a lengthy process. Thank you to Mayor Adams for giving us an additional tool to help us quickly shutter these bad actors once and for all.”

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