MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Hundreds of smoke shops in Manhattan could be evicted for illegal cannabis sales, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Tuesday. 

His office mailed letters to more than 400 shops, saying the DA’s office was prepared to require landlords and owners to pursue tenant eviction against “commercial tenants who are engaged in illegal trade or business.” If the landlord doesn’t makes an application to evict within five days of the written notice, Bragg’s office will take over the eviction proceedings. His office will also take over if a landlord makes the eviction application, but then doesn’t pursue it.

“It’s not safe to sell products that aren’t properly inspected and regulated for dosage, purity, and contaminants. And it certainly isn’t fair to competing businesses,” Bragg said. “Advocates fought hard to put racial equity at the center of New York’s cannabis legalization regime. We want to give New York’s legal cannabis market a fair chance to thrive and give New Yorkers the security of knowing that a safe, orderly system is in place for cannabis dispensaries.”

Bragg was joined by Mayor Eric Adams, who stressed unlicensed dispensaries could be selling dangerous products.

“You can’t just open a shop and sell marijuana. There are rules and we must abide by those rules in a very real way,” Adams said.

 A 2022 study found that marijuana bought at unlicensed dispensaries in New York City was tainted with E. coli, salmonella, heavy metals and pesticides. About 40% of the products bought by the New York Medical Marijuana Cannabis Industry Association failed at least one test.

There’s more than just health concerns, Bragg said. No tax money is collected from the sale of unlicensed marijuana.