Governor Kathy Hochul, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) shut down a cannabis store in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Big Chief Smoke Shop, for operating without a license. Big Chief sold cannabis without a license and ignored repeated orders by OCM and other law enforcement authorities to stop operating.
Investigators from OCM and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) inspected the store on two occasions and confiscated more than 600 pounds of cannabis and cannabis products that were not tested by OCM. In addition to shutting down the store, Attorney General James and OCM are seeking penalties from the store owner and the owner of the building where the store is located for allowing an unlawful business to operate on the property. The store’s owner could be fined millions of dollars in penalties as a result of today’s action. This is the ninth unlicensed cannabis store shut down by Governor Hochul, Attorney General James and OCM.
"We have no tolerance for illicit retailers who break the law and undermine our nation-leading adult-use cannabis industry," Governor Hochul said. "This site egregiously violated New York's cannabis laws and I'm proud to be working with the Attorney General to shut this down. With Brooklyn's first legal cannabis retailers opening this month and illegal shops continuing to close, we are turning the corner towards building a stronger, safer cannabis industry."
New York’s Cannabis Law requires any person who cultivates, processes, or sells any cannabis product to be registered and licensed by the New York State Cannabis Control Board (Cannabis Board). Cannabis products sold by unlicensed businesses are not lab tested by OCM-licensed facilities, can be unsafe, are not taxed, and may not be in child-resistant packaging. The law authorizes the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), upon request by OCM, to bring a proceeding against any person who violates the Cannabis Law.
Big Chief Smoke Shop has been selling cannabis without a license since at least November 2022. In August 2023, OCM and DTF investigators inspected the store and found that the store was selling cannabis flower, concentrates, vapes, edibles, and pre-rolls without having a license to sell cannabis issued by OCM. The investigators confiscated approximately 161 pounds of cannabis flower, 137 pounds of cannabis-infused product, 108 pounds of concentrated cannabis, and 60 pounds of cannabis pre-rolls. OCM issued a Notice of Violation and Order to Cease Unlicensed Activity to the store’s owner for operating without a license and posted the Notice of Violation and Order to Cease Unlicensed Activity along with warning notices informing the public of the dangers of illicit cannabis on the front windows of the store. In a follow-up inspection in October, OCM investigators observed that the documents OCM posted on the front windows of the store were covered over and that the store was still actively selling cannabis. At the October inspection, investigators seized more than 200 pounds of illicit cannabis and issued another Notice of Violation and Order to Cease Unlicensed Activity. The total combined value of the seizures is more than $7.6 million.
Local community leaders have vocally opposed Big Chief Smoke Shop and the local community board passed a unanimous resolution to shut down unlicensed stores in their neighborhood.