• Cultivated
  • Posts
  • New York City’s mayor, an ex-cop, wants to lead a crackdown on illicit pot

New York City’s mayor, an ex-cop, wants to lead a crackdown on illicit pot

It’s not like he has anything else going on

Good morning. Your humble Editor-in-Chief is down-for-the-count with an illness and in the middle of finals, so today’s Cultivated Daily is a quick one. 

Let’s get to it. 

A 7-minute read from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

Embattled NYC Mayor wants to close illegal shops

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

What happened: New York City Mayor Eric Adams says that if regulators in Albany hand over enforcement of illegal pot shops in the city to him, he’ll have them all closed in “30 days.”

Adams made the remarks on a WBLS radio show Sunday, during a monthly segment where Adams takes questions from callers.

The caller told Adams that illegal pot shops were cropping up all over their Harlem neighborhood, including multiple across the street from an elementary school and a mosque.

Adams’ solution? Let the former cop-turned-mayor lead a crack down. It’s not like he’s doing anything else at the moment. 

What he’s saying: “If they give me control of the enforcement, I will close down every illegal shop within 30 days. That's my promise to New Yorkers,” Adams said.

“If I'm given the enforcement, within 30 days you will not see those shops in front of mosques, next to schools, lining up our streets, creating this havoc that you're seeing.”

Back up: Cracking down on unlicensed cannabis sellers has been an uphill battle in New York to say the least.

Regulators and law enforcement officials have been somewhat reluctant to re-criminalize cannabis sales by prosecuting illegal sellers. The whole purpose of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the bill that legalized cannabis in 2021, is to create economic opportunity, not create a new class of criminals. 

Still, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, the primary regulatory agency, in conjunction with the Department of Taxation and Finance, has conducted multiple raids, closing down shops and seizing thousands of pounds of unlicensed products.

Many of the shops, however, re-open within days. 

And for some illicit sellers, the risks are worth it. The headache of opening up a legal shop — and dealing with paying taxes and all the time, energy, and finances it takes to get through the red tape involved with licensing — is prohibitive. 

What’re the consequences of selling illicit cannabis? Gov. Kathy Hochul in June announced a slate of penalties for unlicensed sellers, including:

  • $10,000 per day fines, rising to $20,000 in “egregious circumstances.”

  • Court order to padlock shops with repeat offenses.

And, in August, the New York City Council passed a law that would impose up to a $10,000 fine on landlords that knowingly rent or lease spaces to unlicensed cannabis shops. 

Our take: The issue of unlicensed cannabis sales will exist as long as the bulk of New Yorkers don’t have convenient spots to get the products they want. Right now, there are no legal stores open in Brooklyn, though that is set to change in a few short weeks. 

In our Editor-in-Chief’s neighborhood, there’s about a half-dozen unlicensed stores — including an Empire Cannabis Club location, which looks about as legit as cannabis stores get. Casual consumers have no way of knowing the difference. And another store a few blocks away got raided and was open the very next day.

Ultimately, consumers don’t want to break the law, but price and convenience are the two most important choices for regular cannabis consumers who comprise the bulk of sales across the industry, research shows. If the legal market can’t meet that demand because of too-high taxes and bureaucracy, the illicit market will. 

And as we reported on Monday, New York’s cannabis market is set to open in a big way on December 29. It’s time for consumers to have choices, whether that’s small, high quality craft-scale cannabis growers, or the weed equivalent of Bud Light. 


The state has expunged over 100,000 cannabis-related cases

Driving the news: Missouri has expunged over 100,000 cannabis-related cases from court records just over a year into legalization.

That’s over 100,000 people who have been given a clean(er) slate to start over after they were penalized under an unjust enforcement regime.

But, some court clerks missed the official deadline — meaning that there’s more work to do. And since records stretch back over 100 years, that poses some logistical challenges, experts say. 

What they’re saying: “Now the courts are going to need more time to finish the job, and in fact, it might be years before all the cases from the past century are expunged,” Dan Viets, the Missouri coordinator for the pro-legalization National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told Fox 2

“We’ve had more than 100 years of marijuana prohibition in Missouri. Many of the older cases have never been put on a database. So, it’s going to take a lot of physical work to locate those paper records in boxes and attics and go through them.”

What’s next? It’s important to note that it’s up to those who have the convictions to request expungement. But, as Viet says, no one is going to lose that opportunity because the clerks missed their deadline.

🥊 Quick hits

  • Cannabis company Curaleaf will start trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on December 14

  • New York’s Office of Cannabis Management recalled a batch of gummies for the first time because the products didn’t undergo the required safety testing, the Times Union reports

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a temporary order to place six synthetic cannabinoids on the most restrictive Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

🗞️ What we’re reading