Two Bronx smoke shops, one in Williamsbridge and the other in Westchester Square, are the latest to be hit by politicos and law enforcement for selling illegal contraband.
The Sherriff’s Office and the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection raided the two shops on Nov. 14 and seized more than 46 pounds of illegal cannabis in total, in addition to vape and tobacco product, officials said. Authorities made one arrest and issued five court summonses for illegal product sale and distribution during, according to Council Member Marjorie Velázquez’s office, who represents the East Bronx neighborhoods in Council District 13.
“The health and safety of my community is a top priority, and we must continue to work with Sheriff Miranda and the Joint Compliance Task Force to hold the businesses accountable for their actions,” Velázquez said. “What was discovered during this inspection is proof that we must do more to protect our neighborhoods, especially our youth, from unregulated and illegal cannabis and tobacco products.”
The bust came less than two weeks after Assemblymember John Zaccaro Jr. announced three arrests and more than 55 pounds of illegal cannabis seized at two smoke shops in his 80th Assembly District.
In those raids, an individual was arrested at a Morris Park smoke shop and charged with criminal possession of cannabis in the third degree, possession or sale of unstamped or unlawfully stamped cigarettes, and the sale of cannabis with a liquor license. Another two people were arrested at a different shop, though the announcement didn’t detail their criminal charges. That shop was hit with four summonses.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in New York state in 2021 but state officials have been slow to issue licenses allowing businesses to legally sell it. The first dispensary licenses were not issued until 2022. In the interim, the illegal cannabis market has thrived.
With the proliferation of the illegal shops, authorities have struggled to close smoke shops operated by unlicensed weed vendors.
Despite being disproportionately impacted by cannabis policing, which was supposed to be at the center of the state’s legalization efforts — the Bronx only has one legal recreational dispensary, called Statis, which opened in the Crotona neighborhood in July. There are more in the works — including a dispensary in Allerton, we well as proposed locations in Pelham Parkway, Pelham Bay and Mott Haven.
The Bronx also has one legally licensed delivery dispensary, Sesh NYC, according to the state Office of Cannabis Management’s dispensary locator.
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes