Composite shows an orange sign from the sheriffs office saying a store is temporarily closed. Inset is a photo of Mayor Eric Adams smiling and pointing.
Mayor Adams' Office refuses to identify the smoke shops raided in the sweep despite a high profile announcement touting the crackdown | Upper East Site, Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Adams Touts Padlocked Smoke Shops, Refuses to Identify Targets 🆓

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This week, Mayor Eric Adams touted a sweeping crackdown targeting hundreds of illicit smoke shops and unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, shutting down and padlocking dozens of the illegally operating stores — just don’t ask which ones.

“We’re not sharing a list of the initially sealed locations at this time,” said mayoral spokesperson Liz Garcia in response to multiple requests by Upper East Site for a list of all 150 establishments that Mayor Adams claimed Tuesday had been inspected, the 75 of those allegedly chained shut and the 3,878 violations issued to the businesses. 

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Photo shows Mayor Eric Adams holding a pad lock.
Mayor Eric Adams showed off a padlock on Tuesday announcing the crackdown, but his office refuses to divulge the businesses targeted | Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

“These cases have not gone through the entire enforcement process,” Garcia added.

ALSO READ | Unlicensed Smoke Shop Reopens One Day After Sheriff’s Raid

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While that might seem like a reasonable reason for withholding public information, the NYPD, Department of Buildings, Department of Consumer & Worker Protection and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene all already provide details of their respective non-cannabis-related inspection results or enforcement actions without having adjudicated the cases in court or during administrative hearings.

Photo shows a large warehouse filled with police officers and vehicles behind addressed by the mayor.
Dramatic photos show Mayor Eric Adams addressing officers before last weeks raids | Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“With the backing of legal authority behind us, our administration will act swiftly to combat illegal cannabis and smoke shop operators,” Mayor Adams boasted Tuesday, announcing the successful first week of ‘OPERATION PADLOCK TO PROTECT.’ “I really want to take my hat off to the Sheriff for his actions in Albany, giving us some of the tools we needed to go after these illegal shops.”

Content to distribute dramatic photos to the press showing Mayor Adams addressing a large contingent of NYPD officers and Sheriff’s deputies staging in a warehouse before their raids, in addition to a handful of pictures showing law enforcement triumphing over a single store, ‘New City Smoke Shop’ in Lower Manhattan, whose name is seen written on an evidence bag, the Mayor’s Office outright refuses to identify the other 149 businesses targeted in the sweeps.

Photo shows cops inside a smoke shop.
Photographs released by the Mayor’s Office were all taken within a single smoke shop | Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“We are still very early in the process and will have more to say about data sharing in the near future,” Garcia added, attempting to dissuade Upper East Site’s dogged pursuit of evidence whether Mayor Adams’ new chains and Master locks are keeping illicit cannabis dispensaries permanently closed.

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Prior to the new crackdown, the Sheriff’s Joint Compliance Task Force raided High Supply in March, a brightly colored shop at 1640 York Avenue between East 86th and 87th Streets, which peddled unlicensed cannabis products 24 hours a day, outraging its Upper East Side neighbors.

Photo shows police officers in a smoke shop. One, a woman with blonde hair is labeling an evidence bag.
Only one raided smoke shop has been identified due to an officer labeling an evidence bag ‘New City Smoke Shop’ | Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“It’s decorated with balloons like a candy store,” Stephanie Fagenson told Community Board 8 earlier this year. “We get right off the bus every day, that’s right in our face. And it’s right next door to the [Make Inspire craft studio] … that I take my son to.”

ALSO READ | Where to Buy Legal Cannabis on the Upper East Side

Days after High Supply’s raid by the Sheriff’s Task Force, the store reopened and has been back in business ever since.

Composite shows an unlicensed cannabis dispensary with bright green signage reading ‘High Supply’ and pastel balloons. Inset is a photo of illicit products.
The unlicensed UES cannabis dispensary High Supply was raided in March but reopened days later | Upper East Site, Council Member Julie Menin’s Office

According to Sheriff Anthony Miranda, there are slightly fewer than 2,900 potentially illegal smoke shops operating in the five boroughs, a figure that has nearly doubled in the last year.

“I think the press is going to be really proud of the level of transparency I’m going to show,” then-Mayor-elect Adams told reporters assembled on Thanksgiving Eve in 2021. “Your job is to make sure we do our job, and I welcome that.”

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