Apr. 25, 2023 By Bill Parry
The gold “Happy 420” balloons were still hanging in the front window of the Myrtle Shop in Ridgewood Monday, April 24, as investigators from the New York City Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management and police from the 104th Precinct carried out a raid at the smoke shop.
Two store clerks at the shop, located at 54-02 Myrtle Ave., were arrested for the possession of cannabis and untaxed cigarettes and the store was issued 63 violations for the possession of illegal products, which totaled approximately $45,000 in civil penalties, according to the NYC Sheriff’s Office.
The search for contraband took hours and resulted in the seizure of 30.07 pounds of cannabis flower and pre-rolls, 522 packages of THC edible products, 330 packages of THC vape products, 160.4 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, and 3,700 packages of flavored vape, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
After the search was complete and the illegal products were tagged and bagged and halted away, Councilwoman Jennifer Gutiérrez, who represents the neighborhood, acknowledged the multi-agency cooperation.
“I appreciate the efforts by New York State’s Office on Cannabis Management and the New York City Sheriff’s Office to shut down unlicensed cannabis stores,” Gutiérrez said. “These shops sell untested and unregulated products, often to minors, and undercut the state’s equity goals around cannabis legalization. New Yorkers deserve better than these shops.”
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar recently discussed the proliferation of illegal smoke shops across her district, including the Myrtle Shop, with Sheriff Miranda and she was gratified to learn of Monday’s raid and thanked 104th Precinct Commanding Officer Kevin Coleman and the state’s Office of Cannabis Management for their cooperation.
“We must shutter these illegal, unlicensed smoke shops which endanger our communities. Their stockpiles of drugs, loose cash, untaxed cigarettes, and other paraphernalia are a magnet for crime,” Rajkumar said. “Last month in my district, a smoke shop worker was fatally shot in a robbery at Plug Smoke Shop in Richmond Hill. This year there have been two fatal shootings at smoke shops in Harlem. These shops are also targeting children, marketing cannabis products to them, and endangering their lives by selling cannabis laced with fentanyl or other deadly contaminants.”
She added that more needs to be done to address the issue citywide.
“There are an estimated 1,400 smoke shops in the city, and we must shutter all that are selling illegal cannabis,” Rajkumar said. “Thank you to Mayor Eric Adams for prioritizing enforcement action against these shops. As a state lawmaker, I am committed to providing whatever state resources and expanded enforcement powers the City needs to get the job done.”
Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell.