While legal weed sales have not yet come to New York, anyone who’s been to Times Square will recognize the ever-present Weed World Candies trucks lining the streets of the West Side. But the ubiquitous CBD vendors went up in smoke on Tuesday, after deputies from the NYC Sheriff’s office seized 12 trucks over past-due parking tickets.
According to the sheriff’s office, the trucks owe $316,000 in parking tickets and a total debt of $504,000, and (according to the NY Post) were removed from W38th, W45th, and W46th Streets between 10th and 12th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with marijuana, it only has to do with unpaid debt — judgment debt that’s not paid and owed to the city of New York,” said NYC Deputy Sheriff Maureen Kokeas to NBC New York. “The Department of Finance has communicated with these parties many, many, many times over many years trying to collect this debt, and the debt was ignored — so we went out and took enforcement action.”
The Weed World trucks, which have increasingly proliferated in Times Square and the surrounding area for the last several years, do not officially sell products containing THC (though this may change as recreational sales come online in New York). Launched in 1999, the company aims to advocate for “the legalization and decriminalization of the cannabis plant and all its components,” while selling cannabis-themed products.
The trucks, however, have caused a stir among locals for seemingly permanently parking on city streets, an issue which Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris was determined to address. “I’m being told that in May, they’re going to start to tow the scofflaws,” Harris revealed at a public meeting this spring.
Having finally gotten his wish, Harris told W42ST: “We applaud the Adams administration for taking action on this issue – it is a good start. It is important for the City of New York not to accept the status quo in terms of disorder in our streets, and these trucks, collecting parking tickets, add to that disorder. Let’s continue the good work.”
Contractors who never paid their tickets were to blame for the street parking snafu, said Weed World owner Bilal Muhammad in a statement to NBC New York, emphasizing that they are not “trying to get around paying tickets. The city makes a lot of money off of Weed World, we will make sure our debts are paid.”
Appearing on NY 1, Mayor Eric Adams responded to questions surrounding the possibility that Weed World trucks were already distributing THC products. “Illegal sales, we’re not going to allow,” he said. “In this truck how they’re going about doing it we’re still examining, but clearly we’re not going to allow illegal sales. The trucks may be falling right below the line, and we may just have to continue to monitor, but it is a problem”.
NY 1 reporter Pat Kiernan tweeted a follow-up to the sit-down, stating: “A related question I have from the licensing perspective: Why would anyone invest in a ‘legal’ dispensary when a truck can set up on the same block with no consequences?”, echoing the murky guidelines of the moment as legislators in Albany work out the logistics of conditional licensing in New York state.
Some New Yorkers, however, were more concerned with another crime — false advertising. Said one Twitter user: “The people on those weed world trucks should be arrested for selling fake edibles. They were just ripping off tourists and other gullible types.”