Fresh off a City Council hearing where lawmakers lamented the growing number of unlicensed weed shops in the city, Manhattan City Councilmember Gale Brewer offered ways she believes the city and state can tackle the problem.
A task force led by the New York City Sheriff's Office says it's continuing to crack down on unlicensed cannabis sales, which have flourished across the city in recent months as New York has been slow to get the legal market off the ground. Brewer recently rode along on one of the raids of unlicensed storefronts.
"I don't know how they did it so fast, but the sheriff and the folks from the state cannabis office took out 18 bags in one case and 20 bags in another. And the next day they were back in business with fully stocked shelves, from what I could tell," Brewer said.
There are as many as 1,400 unlicensed shops in the city, according to the sheriff's office and the NYPD.
At the City Council hearing Wednesday, lawmakers called for tougher enforcement, due to concerns that the marijuana currently being sold in stores is unregulated, untested, often marketed to children and will undermine the legal industry as it gets up and running.
Brewer, the council's oversight and investigations committee chair, said on "Inside City Hall" Thursday the state could go after the storefronts for failing to pay sales tax and operating near schools and houses of worship. She also said fines should be higher for unlicensed shops, which currently face the same fines as weed sellers on the street.
The Democrat also discussed the risks smoke shops face of robberies because of their high cash volume and the dangers some vape products marketed toward children present.