New York City putting pressure on landlords to police illegal smoke shops
NEW YORK -- City landlords are under pressure to remove smoke shops from their properties.
When illegal activity is discovered, like selling cannabis without a license, the landlords face fines.
If you live in New York City, you are close to one smoke shop, or more.
"Literally on every block you see two of them," said Keante Sheffield of the West Side.
"It's too many. There are all over," another person said.
READ MORE: Gov. Kathy Hochul proposes new enforcement plan to weed out New York's illegal marijuana shops
A report on all smoke shops -- those operating legally and illegally -- was compiled for the City Council, and counted more than 1,500 citywide, including 400 in Manhattan, alone.
"Some of them are opening illegal smoke shops at 7 a.m. near a school. That upsets me," Councilmember Gale Brewer said.
Brewer scored invites with the Sheriff's Department to go on raids and says public reaction surprised her.
"People think they're legal," Brewer said.
To shut down shops not following the law, the city goes after some landlords to make it their business to police their renters.
After a raid, landlords may face fines and are under pressure to void the leases.
READ MORE: New York City sheriff's office gives CBS2 an inside look at their efforts to crack down on illegal smoke shops
Smoke shops are starting to vanish. Last week, one closed in a space on Ninth Avenue in the 40s in Hell's Kitchen.
For some New Yorkers eager for even more of a crackdown on unlicensed cannabis shops, the case is one down, dozens more to go in Hell's Kitchen.
"We know there is state legislation that will really fine the smoke shops, themselves," Brewer said.
Some critics blame the smoke shop invasion on the state dragging its heels. Only a handful of shops are licensed to sell recreational marijuana and some merchants who want in refuse to wait.
"Is it wrong? Absolutely. But to other people, it's a great, lucrative idea to get some money from," one person said.
"Everybody has the right to make a form of living," Edelis Travieso said.
"We want the legal shops to be successful," Brewer said.
Brewer's message to everyone is if you want cannabis, go to a licensed shop.
Brewer is also urging residents to call 311 and complain if a smoke shop is a neighborhood nuisance, but she wants 311 operators to immediately handle those complaints and not refer people to the state.
for more features.