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Illegal marijuana shops are today’s broken windows: Mike Bloomberg’s fix for New York City’s illicit cannabis dealers sounds like his excessive stop-and-frisk policy

“Quick, cheap, good: you can get either,” a contractor friend likes to say.

Similarly, as Mike Bloomberg said in a Washington Post column Friday: “Advocates promoted legalization as a way to increase tax revenue, establish a safe market, and reduce arrests and criminal penalties.”

But, he continued, “the only way to achieve the first two goals is to abandon the third, by cracking down on illegal shops that undermine legal sellers.”

Mayor Mike may be right, but he should have stopped and recorded that argument and then arrested himself before allowing it to be published under his byline since he is the worst possible messenger here.

“Ninety-five percent of their murders, murderers and murder victims, conform to a modus operandi. You can just take the description, photocopy it, and give it to all the cops. They are male minorities ages 15 to 25,” Bloomberg said in 2015, trying to justify the massive expansion of stop-and-frisk in his first decade as mayor shortly after New Yorkers replaced him with a candidate he won on a promise to end to that surveillance.

“People say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Because? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why did we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way to get guns out of kids’ hands is to throw them against the wall and search them.”

Bloomberg superficially apologized for stop-and-frisk and his 2015 comments after they resurfaced while he was running for president as a Democrat in 2020, entering the field shortly after his successor, Bill de Blasio, left.

In the end, Democratic voters wanted nothing to do with the last two mayors of New York City. Bloomberg spent a billion dollars to win four delegates from American Samoa. (You can forget about the billion more he talked about spending to support the party’s candidate if that wasn’t him; he certainly did.)

No longer needing to woo voters, Bloomberg is again calling for strong action — making an exception to his admirable habit of refraining from publicly weighing in on New York politics — while conspicuously omitting the central idea of ​​funneling store profits. to the people and the public. tax collection to the places that were most affected by the long war on weed here.

You are correct that two years after legalization, the legal market is a grim joke with three licensed stores in town all within walking distance of each other in the Village and not a single store in the neighborhoods that should have been the first in line.

But there are about 1,400 illegal storefronts openly selling the stuff across the city, with new ones opening all the time.

1679174044 500 Illegal marijuana shops are todays broken windows Mike Bloombergs

Bloomberg, who has endorsed and advised Mayor Adams, blamed “the Legislature (which) rushed into law with legalization without having any system in place for licensing or enforcing the law,” saying that “voters should demand that the Governor and the New York Legislature take responsibility for this mess and fix it.

Albany is allegedly discussing “adjustments” to the law while Adams has bought time, alternating between talking about “educating” unlicensed store owners and vowing to shut them down while deliberately confusing cigarette enforcement with weed enforcement to justify the raids and to make it appear as if his administration is doing much more than that. is to enforce the rules.

Adams also continues to use his Legal Department’s interpretation of state law to explain why the city has been unable to deter illegal store owners or their owners. (A mayor does not write the laws, but has great power and discretion to interpret and prioritize them.)

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The Rudy-era phrase is very old fashioned, but pot shops are the new broken windows in town: a sign that the rules don’t really matter.

The fundamental dilemma for Adams, regardless of the “adjustments” to legalization that occur in Albany, is enforcing the rules without relying on law enforcement.

Eric Adams listens during a news conference at NYPD Headquarters on March 9, 2023 in Manhattan, New York.

Rules that don’t matter can be more problematic than no rules at all, and no one, except perhaps Bloomberg, wants marijuana legalization to be a pretext for more arrests.

A related dynamic applies to street vendor enforcement, which de Blasio moved from the New York Police Department to the Department of Consumer and Workplace Protection.

Michael Gartland of the Daily News reported Friday afternoon, in what seemed like a classic news dump by the administration not issuing its own statement on the matter, Adams is now moving enforcement to the Department of Sanitation. a week later. Flushing Councilwoman Sandra Ung called for a crackdown there.

Another expression from that contractor: “Measure twice, cut once.”

Siegel (harrysiegel@gmail.com) is editor of The City and a columnist for the Daily News.

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