QUEENS (PIX11) — Marijuana has been decriminalized in New York City, but there are only two licensed stores that can sell it. The NYC Sheriff’s Office has been tasked with ensuring unlicensed stores don’t sell unregulated cannabis products.
PIX11 rode along as New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda and his team of deputies raided three smoke shops in Queens this week. Millions of dollars in products were confiscated. Miranda explained that because the marijuana projects at these stores aren’t regulated, they could be tainted with other substances.
Weapons have also been found during the sweeps, according to the sheriff’s office.
“These store owners have become the victims of robberies. They are trying to figure out how to arm themselves. This is the improper way of doing it,” Miranda said.
Many are also selling flavored tobacco and vape products, which are illegal to sell in New York. Some of the products come from out of state, which means New York City isn’t getting tax revenue. Some of the products have packaging similar to snacks kids enjoy.
“That you can’t distinguish between a child’s product and adult product, then you’re going to endanger a child in our area,” Miranda said.
Miranda said his office has done 87 inspections so far. He has more than 1,300 left to do.
Stores can be fined up to $50,000. The street-level investigations can also turn into tax investigations.
“Millions of dollars of products have been seized by our office. It tells you the type of turnaround that they have, the type of money that they’re making,” Miranda said. “And this is also revenue that should be benefitting the city that is not.”
In addition to confiscating the products, the sheriff’s office said it tries to educate business owners on what they can do and how to apply for a license with New York State.