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The Weed Bodega Crackdown Has Finally Started…Right?

Bad news for fans of one specific smoke shop, and more news to blaze for your Wednesday.

9:26 AM EST on March 8, 2023

The dark storefront of Runtz Smoke Shop, a business in New York City shut down by the NYPD for selling unlicensed cannabis.

(Hell Gate)

The status of New York City's supposed crackdown on weed bodegas might seem obvious to anyone who has recently taken a walk outside—virtually non-existent. But, ladies and gentlemen, they finally got one: As a result of the joint efforts of Eric Adams, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, and the NYPD, Runtz Smoke Shop is closed for business, pending a hearing later this month. Huzzah! Law and order triumphs once again. 

One might reasonably ask, how is one closure a win for the City when all the powers that be promised to eradicate unlicensed shops to pave the way for legal weed? Because so far, according to Adams, law enforcement was limited to issuing fines and criminal court summonses. That changed back in early February. "It is time for the operation of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries to end," DA Bragg said, when he announced his office would now be using its civil authority to compel landlords to evict their smoke shop tenants. 

That same day, a judge issued nuisance abatement lawsuits aimed at shutting down four smoke shops in the East Village, including Runtz, after the establishments sold weed to baby cops, or—to use the more technical term—the NYPD's "underage auxiliary officers." 

But according to a report from the CITY, the only weed bodega that's actually closed for business as a result of these lawsuits is Runtz, whose owners and employees are presumably subject to some kind of curse—the last time Runtz made the news was when armed robbers stole thousands of dollars from the store back in August, just ten days after it opened. On its front door, as of March 2, neon signage emblazoned with the NYPD logo declares it partially closed by court order and subject to a restraining order. 

(Hell Gate)

The other three East Village smoke shops—Broadway, Saint Marks Convenience & Smoke Shop, and Sogie Mart Rolls & Puff—are apparently still open for business in spite of the lawsuits and the looming threat of eviction. Per the CITY, the four nuisance abatement lawsuits from February are still the only ones that have been filed so far. (We have reached out to the Manhattan DA's office, the NYPD, the City's Law Department, and City Hall to find out if any more lawsuits have been filed and whether any other businesses have been forced to close as a result.)

And so, the lights wink off in one unlicensed pot shop as its owners await their day in court, set for later this month. Still, New Yorkers who are determined to avoid the city's three licensed dispensaries—Housing Works Cannabis Co., Smacked Village, and Union Square Travel Agency, which Bloomberg noted are all within 3,000 feet of each other—don't have a ton to worry about. According to the New York sheriff's office, there are around 1,400 other options to choose from.

After you pour one out for Runtz, some reading material: 

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