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Crack down on illegal NYC pot shops, community group says

Illegal pot shops popping up near NYC schools, daycares, group says
Illegal pot shops popping up near NYC schools, daycares, group says 00:44

NEW YORK - A New York City community group is calling for more action to crack down against smoke shops that illegally sell cannabis

The group Silent Voices United says too many smoke shops are popping up in neighborhoods near schools and daycares, and that landlords are being deceived by prospective tenants. 

They gathered in Harlem Thursday morning to have their voices heard.   

The group wants an amendment added to the recently introduced state legislation known as the Smokeout Act.

"The first legislation they had on the table in the Senate and Assembly didn't mention children, didn't mention the landlords getting misled by tenants, coming in here and saying one thing then turning around and it's another. So we submitted our amendment and they took it into consideration and it looks like it's getting ready to happen, so I'm excited," Tiffany Fulton of Silent Voices United said. 

State Assemblywoman Jennifer Rajkumar introduced the Smokeout Act earlier in the year. If passed, it would allow local municipalities to shutter smoke shops caught selling illegal cannabis products. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she wants to make it easier to for authorities to get court orders to padlock the illegal shops. She's also asked companies like Google and Yelp to make sure the illegal shops are excluded from search results

A survey released in March showed illegal marijuana shops are on the rise in New York City. New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer has said part of the problem is that New York City can't enforce strict cannabis rules, and amendments to the state's cannabis law are needed. 

The operator of a legal cannabis dispensary said the illicit shops hurt New York's economy. 

"It's going to be a $7 billion industry in New York state, and so you're diverting taxes away from public good," Housing Works president Matthew Bernardo said in March. 

In Nov. 2023, officials estimated there were some 1,500 illegal marijuana shops citywide

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