Busted! Sheriff catches southern Brooklyn shops ‘green-handed’ with illegal cannabis during routine inspection

cannabis rolls bay ridge
The Sheriff Joint Compliance Task Force caught five Bay Ridge shops for illegal possession or selling of cannabis and tobacco last week.
File photo courtesy of Getty Images

A task force from the New York City Sheriff’s Office last week busted some southern Brooklyn shops for illegally carrying and selling cannabis and other illicit products during a routine inspection of the district.

On March 20, the office found at least five shops within District 47 — which includes Bay Ridge, Coney Island and parts of Bath Beach — to have illegal contraband. 

Two of the shop owners were arrested as a result of the bust. The operator of Cloud Tobacco Shop Corp., a store on Third Ave., was charged with criminal possession of cannabis in the second degree.

Officers also apprehended the leading man of Sam’s Convenience Store Inc., located on 5th Avenue and 81st Street, on criminal possession of cannabis in the third degree and the possession or sale of cigarettes without the proper New York State tax stamp.

weed shop being shut down
An Office of Cannabis Management enforcement officer posts a sign after a store was raided in Manhattan for illegal pot sales last summer. File photo courtesy of NYS OCM/X

Both shops were less than a mile from schools or learning, according to the Sheriff’s office.

Officers also charged the owners of two different storefronts along 86th Street for unlawful possession: 304 Organic Convenience which was allegedly illegally carrying cannabis, and Akee Convenience Corp., which was busted for allegedly selling tobacco without a license and carrying unstamped cigarettes. 

Lastly, another Third Avenue business by the name of My Candy Shop Corp. got caught for selling tobacco without the proper license and for having unlicensed cigarettes.

Council Member Justin Brannan, who represents the neighborhood, commended the NYC Sheriff Joint Compliance Task Force for their hard work and continued partnership.  

“The fledgling legal marijuana industry has been completely undermined by a disastrous rollout allowing for illegal stores to pop up everywhere. These illegal pot shops are stealing tax revenue from the people and stealing business from store owners who follow the law and operate in good faith,” Brannan said in a statement. “If we care about a strong and safe legal marijuana market in New York, then we must completely overhaul the licensing process while holding accountable operators who flout the law.” 

Inspectors confiscated a total of 3,246 packages of tobacco products, 6,426 flavored vape products, 812 THC vapes, 828 packages of THC flower, 1,537 THC pre-rolls, 616 packages of THC edibles and 42.3 cartons of untaxed cigarettes; and issued 270 violations and an estimated $265,600 in penalties. 

Following the legalization of licensed weed retail in 2021, weed shops have popped up on nearly every corner.

Though the selling of cannabis is legal, a large number of storefronts currently offering the drug have yet to receive a license, to Mayor Eric Adams’ dismay. To that end, city officials have said the sheriff’s office is ramping up efforts to fight against the rapid growth of unlicensed marijuana sales. 

big chief
Authorities shuttered one illegal Bay Ridge cannabis shop, Big Chief, last winter. File photo by Jada Camille

Many eyes have been on Bay Ridge since the takedown of one unlicensed retailer, Big Chief, last winter. After months of complaints, Attorney General Letitia James, Governor Kathy Hochul and the Office of Cannabis Management handed down a court order that got the shop shut down after store owners ignored multiple violations. 

“Unlicensed cannabis stores selling unregulated products pose a health risk to New Yorkers and hurt the businesses that are following the rules,” James said in a statement at the time. “New Yorkers who buy and use cannabis shouldn’t have to worry about the quality and safety of the products they are purchasing, which is why all shops must be licensed and regulated.”

The Sheriff’s Office will continue to conduct daily inspections and “address the concerns of the community to keep New Yorkers safe.”