A crackdown on two establishments peddling unlicensed marijuana and other illegal products, steps from two Upper East Side schools, has tallied dozens of violations against the businesses but is having little effect in curbing the nuisance posed by the enterprises operating outside the law.
New York City Council Member Julie Menin, who represents the Upper East Side, announced Tuesday that amid a flood of complaints about unlicensed smoke shops, cannabis dispensaries and weed bodegas, her office facilitated investigations by the citywide task force assigned to tackle the scourge of unauthorized marijuana sales near schools. They targeted two establishments in particular: Yorkville Convenience and Sweetooth.
Yorkville Convenience, located at 1443 York Avenue, across the street from Yorkville East Middle School and the Bayard Taylor School, racked up 50 violations, according to Menin’s office.
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection cited the bodega near the corner of East 77th Street for everything from unlicensed sales of tobacco products and sales of flavored tobacco and vape cartridges, to pricing cigars below the required minimum and even displaying smoking paraphernalia or advertisements for tobacco products within 500 feet of a school.
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However, there is one glaring omission from the long list of violations: none were related to the primary issue neighbors have complained about — the unlicensed weed sales near a school.
Meanwhile, at Sweetooth, an unlicensed THC-infused bakery located at 1662 First Avenue, DWCP inspectors wrote eight summonses for unlicensed tobacco sales and related violations. No action was taken regarding the weed-laced food of unknown origin sold by Sweetooth, located around the corner from St. Joseph’s Academy on East 87th Street.
That’s because DCWP does not have the power to regulate cannabis in NYC. It can only enforce regulations on tobacco products and e-cigarettes, hamstringing efforts to punish establishments operating illegally.
“We will continue to ensure that bad actors violating our laws face consequences for their actions,” said Council Member Menin, “I will work with my Council colleagues to pass legislation that requires the City to create a public awareness campaign on the dangers of purchasing cannabis products from unlicensed retailers.”
Under Menin’s proposed bill, the NYC Health Department would team with DCWP to educate children about the risks of these unregulated cannabis products, which in addition to being of unknown origin, are only intended for adult use, just like tobacco and alcohol.
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“Constituents constantly notify my office that these unlicensed smoke shops operate without any regulations that offer products that can be laced with anything,” Council Member Menin explained, “My bill is designed to inform youths that these smoke shops, which often use cartoon images that can easily capture a young person’s attention, offer unsafe products.”
An estimated 1,400 unlicensed businesses are selling cannabis products in New York City, compared to only four legal, licensed dispensaries in Manhattan and one in Queens.
At the two stores, Upper East Site found Sweetooth and Yorkville Convenience still illegally peddling cannabis products steps from Upper East Side schools. The latter still had a swath of unlicensed nicotine products on display behind the counter and bongs in the window, visible to school children passing by.
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What about the one next to Agata and Valentina? Tacky flashing sign.
Why don’t they shut them down if violating the law? But thank you Julie Menin for trying.
They busted another smoke shop today on Madison Ave btw 96th and 97th streets.