NYC’s Crackdown on Illegal Cannabis Shops

Imagine this: a group of smoke shop owners in NYC, lacking the necessary licenses, are now in a legal battle with the Adams administration. They’re asserting that the city’s recent crackdown on illegal cannabis shops is trampling on their constitutional rights. These owners have taken the bold step of filing a federal class-action lawsuit in Brooklyn, contending that the city’s raids, which have resulted in the closure of numerous shops across the city, are infringing on their due process rights.

This legal battle is the city’s latest challenge as it strives to close down unscrupulous dispensaries, while New York State is still grappling with the regulation of legal marijuana sales. Mayor Adams has been advocating for a citywide crackdown on weed since 2022. Now, he’s been given the go-ahead to take action under the state’s ‘Operation Padlock to Protect Plan,’ a key component of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal.

The plan includes the “Cannabis Emergency Rule,” which basically lets the City Sheriff’s Office inspect businesses selling weed without the proper paperwork and shut them down on the spot. The operation kicked off last month, and officials say they’ve already seized over $10 million worth of products and fined these shops more than $20 million.

Cannabis Emergency Rule Hits a Snag

But the weed sellers who are getting hit by this crackdown on illegal cannabis shops are crying foul, saying their rights are being trampled. The lawsuit says that letting the Sheriff’s office swoop in and lock up shops they think are selling weed without a license is a violation of the owners’ due process rights. Even though the shop owners get a hearing within five days of being shut down, the folks suing argue that the Sheriff gets to make the final call on whether the shop stays closed for good.

The lawyer representing the shop owners said that closing down these smoke shops is just plain wrong and that letting the Sheriff have the final say is not how due process is supposed to work.

The lawsuit also brings to light the collateral damage, with innocent business owners being ensnared in the conflict. For instance, a spa and a bike shop were forced to shut down because they shared a gate with an illegal dispensary that was padlocked by the NYPD in its crackdown on illegal cannabis shops.

But even with this lawsuit, the Adams administration is still patting itself on the back for cleaning up the city’s weed scene. A City Hall spokesperson said that “Operation Padlock to Protect” is all about shutting down illegal weed shops while helping legal cannabis business owners thrive.

Oh, and according to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, legal weed sales for the year are expected to top $200 million this month.

Landlords or Tenants who would like to discuss their potential liability can contact the Wright Law Firm at (212) 619-1500.