Manhattan Cannabis Chain Club, Empire Cannabis, Raided by Police and State Agents

Empire Cannabis Club is the target of stepped-up state efforts to crack down on unlicensed shops.

New York Police Department officers and state tax agents raided one Manhattan dispensary and were thwarted from raiding another on Tuesday in an exercise of their newly expanded powers to crack down on unlicensed cannabis shops.

The enforcement teams descended late Tuesday morning on the Chelsea and Lower East Side locations of the Empire Cannabis Club — one of the city’s biggest operators of unlicensed dispensaries — to conduct what an official at the Chelsea site described as a routine inspection. After a standoff that lasted several hours, tax agents were seen taking seized products out of the dispensary on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea and loading them into a red van.

Jonathan Elfand, one of the four owners of Empire’s five outlets, said the police had pushed their way behind him into the Chelsea store after he arrived in the afternoon, then briefly detained him.

At the Lower East Side store on Allen Street, his sister, Lenore Elfand, a co-owner, said the authorities refrained from raiding her store after she recorded a video saying she would not consent to a warrantless search. But she said tax agents gave her and the store manager tickets ordering them to appear in court on a charge of obstruction.

The Police Department said tax officials summoned officers to the Allen Street dispensary, but they left without conducting any enforcement.


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