Yonkers passes temporary ban on new smoke shop permits

On Wednesday, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano signed the bill issuing a temporary moratorium against giving permits to open up tobacco shops.

Jonathan Gordon

Jun 14, 2023, 7:17 PM

Updated 367 days ago

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New York's third-largest city is taking a significant step to slow the number of illicit marijuana shops from opening up.
On Wednesday, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano signed the bill issuing a temporary moratorium against giving permits to open up tobacco shops.
The order, unanimously passed by the city council on Tuesday night, will remain in effect until Nov. 1, 2023.
Illegal marijuana shops generally start under the guise of tobacco shops before expanding to include marijuana products.
Store owners generally face very little legal pushback because most district attorney's offices no longer prosecute low-level marijuana-related cases.
Spano says he completely supports legal adult use of marijuana and blames the New York State Office of Cannabis Management for being too slow to issue legal permits, clarity on enforcement, and guidance.
A spokesperson for the state Office of Cannabis Management has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Wellington Suarez, owner of Maestros Cigars, sees the growing problem and understands the steps the city is taking.
"They have the right intention, but it could affect the business openings of legitimate businesses like ours,” he said. "We would never sell cannabis. We would only sell cigars."
Earlier this year, the state issued its first permit to a Yonkers resident to launch a legitimate adult-use marijuana retail store, but it hasn't opened yet.
Other than that, no store currently selling marijuana in Yonkers is licensed to do so, according to the mayor's office.
Those who have been critical of the unregulated marijuana market argue it poses a health risk, doesn't contribute to the tax base, and is connected to higher rates of crime.
In March, Spano approved legislation updating the city's public nuisance abatement law to include the illegal sale of marijuana.
The revised law enacts a point system to hold owners accountable. Anyone with more than six points in a 12-month period could be shut down by the police and receive heavier fines.


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