There May Really be 8,000 Unlicensed Cannabis Shops in NYC Says Attorney Paula Collins

West Side Spirit

The hundreds of millions of uncollected tax money from illegal cannabis shops can fix our streets, hospitals and pot holes says one prominent lawyer who estimates there are as many as 8,000 unregistered cannabis shops in the city.

If the 8,000 number of illegal cannabis shops is accurate, it is more than five times the 1,500 illegal smoke, vape, or cannabis shops across the city, that most city officials take as the official estimate.

Paula Collins who represents many of the unlicensed cannabis shops–says there are actually close to 8,000, a number which she first revealed in an article in Crain’s New York Business and which she confirmed in an interview with Straus News.

In Manhattan alone she told Straus News that she estimates there are around 2,000 illegal shops.

“By my math, there are 36,207 unlicensed cannabis businesses in New York State,” Collins stated. Collins explained that because there are 2,300 city blocks in Manhattan, some of which do not have unlicensed shops, but others in fact do have more than one. This is how Collins concluded that more than a quarter of the unlicensed cannabis shops from all five boroughs are in Manhattan, a number which she confirmed to Straus News.

A small pop-up stand on the side of the street may not look like your stereotypical billion-dollar business, especially when the merchandise is confiscated and they are fined thousands of dollars by the state before they can make bank–that is if they can even go to a bank.

Because cannabis is still considered a “controlled substance” at the federal level, it means patrons can’t use bank credit cards. It is strictly debit and cash and carry for the illegal cannabis shops.

When Collins was asked if these businesses are not given necessary aid because they are not considered ‘reputable establishments,’ she said, “Then why is the government in the Cannabis industry.”

Collins proposed a solution. “You know that has been some of the push back of politicians. ‘Oh there have been shootings, there have been robbers.’ Well, allow them to bank.”

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