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In the early hours of this morning (Wednesday), a Hell’s Kitchen smoke shop worker was shot. Police are searching for at least six men after the incident, which happened on the same day as New York City Council holds a hearing about the unlicensed stores.

Smoke City on 9th Avenue where the shooting took place earlier today. Photo: Naty Caez

NYPD say the men entered the Smoke City store at 710 9th Avenue between W48/49th Street just after midnight. When a worker tried to get the group to leave, a dispute continued out on 9th Avenue. A member of the group pulled a gun and shot the worker in the leg.

Some of the group fled the scene southbound on 9th Avenue on scooters. The employee, 32, was taken to Bellevue Hospital. His injury was not life-threatening — and video aired by Eyewitness News (who originally reported the story) showed the worker on his phone as he was lifted into the ambulance on a stretcher.

Police are investigating the shooting and will review security camera footage from the store and surrounding area.

The proliferation of unlicensed smoke shops on 9th Avenue and around New York has caused many residents concern. Council member Gale Brewer hosted a town hall about the “smoke cloud of confusion” last month This is the second shooting this month, a worker was shot in the back at another smoke shop in the Lower East Side earlier in January.

The City Council will host a public hearing at City Hall and on Zoom about “the proliferation of unlicensed smoke shops in New York City” this morning (Wednesday, January 18) at 10am. Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe), a national advocacy organization, has been campaigning against the stores, saying: “The recent rapid increase in the number of unlicensed smoke and vape shops in NYC threatens the health and safety of our communities.” They say that “these renegade retailers” have taken over communities and could “harm our kids”.

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12 Comments

  1. Get. Them. Out. Seriously, they attract nothing positive for the neighborhood. How did the Community Board approve this??

    1. This is an unlicensed show. There is no community board approval. Hopefully Hell’s Kitchen will soon get licensed shops.

    2. It is amazing that there are so many of these “Smoke Weed” shops around here!

      I went into most of them on an afternoon walk down ninth avenue and my impression that they are designed and presented to be attractive to children, preteens and teenagers was confirmed.

      One can barely see the cannabis products because they are mostly all packaged using plastics and containers designed to attract and cultivate a new generation of users for their development of an anticipated future market.

      The illegality and criminality of marijuana has gone from the street and sidewalk into these oddly psychotic NYC storefronts. It’s not the way it was meant to be.

      Forget about the licensing processes, regulations and community board approvals, landlord responsibility and police confiscations. It is past that now.

      NYC. It’s the wild west.

  2. Why can’t landlords be held responsible. There are clearly illegal activities at every one of these places. They are set up with the purpose of selling weed illegally. Police should be conducting searches of these places and then holding landlords responsible for illegal activity in their stores. This isn’t a rouge store set up to hide illegal activity, they’re actually advertising it. What happens when owning a dispensary isn’t worth it with all these places. Then all the sales tax that could have been used for education, healthcare and other services disappear.

  3. It’s ridiculous that these establishments could even acquire a business license!!
    City Council and NY State MUST take immediate action to CLOSE those shops who do not possess a license to sell recreational cannabis.

    How stupid they be to watch these shops sprout up like weeds (pun intended) and do nothing?

    These shootings were predictable and preventable. Next time an innocent bystander will be the victim.

    Take Action NOW.

  4. The licensing process is like the liquor license process. The license is granted to a particular business entity at a particular location and that location has to be approved. It has to be a certain distance from a school or a religious institution and also if there is a lot of community backlash the license can be denied for that reason.

    The problem is that none of these local smoke shops are licensed-regulated. Can they be shut down? Yes. Will they be shut down? Some time in the future. Once entrepreneurs are granted licenses and begin to have success they will start to put pressure on the authorities to close down the illegal operators and at that point the unregulated shops will be shut down.

    The only way to shut these places down now is to take all their money by levying fines for various things and by confiscating their products. This takes time and effort however and no one wants to do it. We are stuck with these illegal operators for now and nothing can be done.

  5. It is amazing that there are so many of these “Smoke Weed” shops around here!

    I went into most of them on an afternoon walk down ninth avenue and my impression that they are designed and presented to be attractive to children, preteens and teenagers was confirmed.

    One can barely see the cannabis products because they are mostly all packaged using plastics and containers designed to attract and cultivate a new generation of users for their development of an anticipated future market.

    The illegality and criminality of marijuana has gone from the street and sidewalk into these oddly psychotic NYC storefronts. It’s not the way it was meant to be.

    Forget about the licensing processes, regulations and community board approvals, landlord responsibility and police confiscations. It is past that now.

    NYC. It’s the wild west.

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