Brooklyn Heights

Rogue smoke shop in Brooklyn Heights raided — again

Cops carry out bags of illegal cannabis products

October 24, 2023 Mary Frost
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Police seized illegal cannabis products from an unlicensed smoke shop in Brooklyn Heights Monday, making their second raid on the problematic shop in a month.

Cops filled up boxes and bags at the Exotic Smoke Shop at 64 Henry St. early on Oct. 23, neighbors told the Brooklyn Eagle. 

Heights resident Aileen (she asked that her last name not be used) said she saw “a half dozen police dragging bags from the smoke shop on Henry near Cranberry.” Another neighbor said he saw undercover cops filling up boxes at the shop.

“They need to be shut down for good and the landlord needs to be called out!” neighbor Pia Scala-Zankel told the Eagle.

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Police raided the Exotic Smoke Shop at 64 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights on Monday, Oct. 23. The shop was closed on Tuesday. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

The previous raid took place on Sept. 27, when a large sign was posted on the front door from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), saying, “Pursuant to the New York State cannabis law and regulations, illicit cannabis has been seized and this location must immediately cease the sale of unapproved and unauthorized cannabis products.” The sign disappeared a few days later, however, and the shop continued its apparently lucrative business.

The shop has also been robbed several times, including on April 15, 2023, at 8:50 p.m., as diners enjoyed their meals in the restaurant dining shed next door to the smoke shop. Illegal smoke shops have been the targets of a citywide robbery spree since they first appeared. 

NYPD had no comment on Monday’s raid.

In May 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation enabling crackdowns on unlicensed cannabis businesses. The legislation enables fines of up to $20,000 a day for the most egregious conduct, and could lead to closure. 

In addition, a new law went into effect in July imposing fines of up to $10,000 on landlords who knowingly lease to illegal cannabis retailers. The property owner of 64 Henry St. is Manhattan resident Joel Radmin, the principal of Extreme Realty LLC.

Neighbors said police carried out bags and boxes of cannabis products during Monday’s raid of the Exotic Smoke Shop on Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights. Still on the shelves were non-weed products such as lighters and butane. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

The shop, which opened in the neighborhood in February 2022, has been a bad actor from the beginning, neighbors said, opening without proper licenses and breaking NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rules by installing signage, since removed, featuring a grinning skull, and at night, neon-colored, flashing lights.

“We’ve been all over it,” Councilmember Lincoln Restler told the Eagle at that time. “Immediately upon hearing that a smoke shop would be coming to 64 Henry St., we got reports of potentially illegal signs. We reached out to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.”

Shortly thereafter, the shop tore down the garish sign, leaving a blank wall in its place.

The City Council estimated in August that New York City is home to approximately 8,000 illegal, unlicensed smoke shops.

On Oct. 4, OCM opened a two-month window for businesses interested in applying for a state license to operate a retail shop. Up until now, the agency had only issued conditional retail licenses to certain social equity applicants.

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