A sweeping crackdown by New York state authorities and city-level officials is still very much underway, as exemplified by a dozen shops in the city of Syracuse that have been shuttered in recent months.
Leaders in the upstate New York college town passed a local ordinance in December prohibiting the sale of marijuana without proper permits, and thus far the city’s code enforcement has been able to close down 12 such illicit smoke shops found to be selling cannabis, WSYR-TV reported.
But it’s still an open question as to whether civil approaches such as code violations will work broadly with a majority of illicit dealers.
Case in point: New York Office of Cannabis Management agents, hand in hand with officials from the Department of Tax and Finance, raided 11 unlicensed marijuana shops in Manhattan in early June and served them all with cease-and-desist orders. But the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that only two of those shops are now actually closed, and that another two have ceased selling cannabis. At the other seven stores, “it was business as usual” with cannabis goods available for all customers.
Although a new state law gives OCM agents the power to levy civil fines of up to $20,000 a day for unlicensed marijuana sales, many industry experts have voiced skepticism that the punitive approach will work, for various reasons.
Indeed, the AP reported that some of the 11 businesses that had been raided simply removed large warning signs to customers that had been posted by regulators and reposted their own signage on sidewalks advertising cannabis for sale.
One shop was even billowing cannabis smoke from within as customers indulged, the AP reported.