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New York City shop ordered closed for second day in a row for selling illegal marijuana products



NEW YORK — A new survey out shows illegal marijuana shops are on the rise in New York City, including on the Upper West Side.

Continued violations sometimes don’t stop them from opening their doors, but that may all soon change.

On Thursday, Zaza Waza smoke shop only closed its doors after police told it too, again. A police unit even cut the store’s locks and replaced them with new ones.

It was the second day in a row the Upper West Side unlicensed Cannabis store was shut down for selling illegal items.

“It’s a misdemeanor to have done what they just did,” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said.

Brewer said the store has 47 violations, and last year, during a raid, 17 bags of illegal items like tobacco and cannabis were seized.

The councilwoman said the city can’t enforce strict cannabis rules yet, so the tobacco is what led to its demise.

“I don’t think you should be serving illegal product,” Brewer said.

Brewer’s new survey shows has been a 104% increase in unlicensed stores — a total of 53 — over the last 15 months.

Neighbors were happy Thursday to see at least one shut down.

“If you are doing it the wrong way, you should be penalized,” resident Chris Toglia said.

“It’s about time,” Ed Hersh added.

Brewer said the only way to enforce stricter punishments is by making amendments to the state cannabis law.

“Currently, law preempts the City Council and the city from creating a local and civil structure,” Brewer said.

Two weeks ago. Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed new steps to shut down illicit storefronts, making it harder for them to reopen after breaking the law.

“Everyone gets due process, but while that plays out in the court, they would be shuttered and out of business,” Hochul said.

Stores that operate legally say illicit shops are hurting New York’s economy.

“It’s going to be a $7 billion industry in New York state, and so you’re diverting taxes away from public good,” said Matthew Bernardo, president of Housing Works.

What’s more, it could lead to health concerns. Officials say unregulated stores don’t always test their products.

CBS New York reached out to the building owner of Zaza Waza, but has not heard back.

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