New York officials close illicit marijuana operation ahead of legal openings

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The day before the grand opening of the first legal adult-use store in Brooklyn, New York state officials celebrated what they vow will be the final shutdown of a longstanding illicit marijuana operation in the borough.

Using the courts to permanently shutter Big Chief Smoke Shop, an unlicensed cannabis retailer in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of southern Brooklyn, is a sign that New York is “turning the corner,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a Monday statement.

Big Chief is the ninth illegal operator to be shut down by the state, according to Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James.

“We have no tolerance for illicit retailers who break the law and undermine our nation-leading adult-use cannabis industry,” Hochul said.

Meanwhile, official estimates of how many illegal stores operate in New York City alone range from 1,500 to as many as 8,000.

Big Chief had been selling cannabis without a license for months, even though state officials seized more than 600 pounds of illicit products in the most recent raid.

After previous actions by the state, the store would briefly shutter only to reopen later.

Now, the store’s steel roll gates are closed, with a copy of a court order prominently attached, according to the New York Post.

AG James is also seeking to impose millions of dollars in fines against the store’s operators and its landlord, according to court records.