Times Square’s marijuana truck business is going up in smoke thanks to city government weed wackers.
The NYPD seized 19 brightly-colored trucks and buses found selling cannabis-laced edibles without proper permits at the Crossroads of the World on Tuesday — just a day after Weed World, Times Square’s largest edible provider, paid off more than $200,000 in parking fines that led to a dozen of its trucks being pulled from the streets.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey tweeted about Tuesday’s seizure, claiming the weed trucks were taken off the streets because they didn’t have the proper permits needed to sell cannabis products.
“If you are looking to buy illegal cannabis from the Weed World Bus located on 5th Avenue & 40th street it is no longer open for business,” Maddrey tweeted. “We do not anticipate it opening for business anytime soon!”
Maddrey also posted a video in which NYPD Deputy Chief John Chell explained that the seizures followed complaints from the Times Square Business Improvement District about “illegal food vending trucks.”
“In this case it’s a cannabis truck selling illegal edibles,” Chell said standing in front of a seized truck.
On Monday, Weed World said it paid $200,000 of the $500,000 in parking fines the company accrued in Times Square and hashed out an installment plan with the city’s Department of Finance to pay the rest.
In June, the city Sheriff’s office towed away 12 Weed World trucks with the most tickets and wouldn’t release the vehicles until the fines were paid.
It was not immediately clear if all of the trucks seized Tuesday were owned by Weed World.
The crackdown follows a Daily News story about the proliferation of pot trucks and marijuana sellers that critics claim turned Times Square into an open-air drug market.
None of the weed trucks in Times Square have permits to sell cannabis-laced products since the state hasn’t begun giving them out.
Weed World owner Bilal Muhammad said “independent contract drivers who failed to take responsibility for their infractions during the pandemic” were responsible for racking up the tickets.
“(They) have since been dismissed from Weed World,” he said.
The company says it sells non-psychoactive cannabinoids, or weed products without THC, the ingredient that gets one high.
“We’re being grouped with these up and newcomers that are actually selling real weed and we don’t sell real weed,” Mohammed said. “We never have.”
But a visit to Times Square by The News in April found people in Weed World trucks selling joints and cannabis-laced products.
Weed World also has a brick-and-mortar store nearby, just up Seventh Ave. from the M&Ms Store. Mohammed said he plans to make his store “the city’s leading dispensary” once New York begins giving out permits.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in March 2021 decriminalizing recreational marijuana for adults. Sales of weed in large quantities remain illegal until the state establishes regulations, rules for dispensaries and licenses.
But the state’s decriminalization of marijuana before the before regulations were set created a gray zone where pot sellers try to skirt the law by selling small amounts, or exchanging marijuana for donations. Pot trucks began showing up all around the city over the last several months.
Legislation is already in the works to preclude any “gray zone” sellers from getting licenses. Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill in Albany aimed at stiffening state regulation of marijuana-selling trucks and stores. The bill passed the Senate in June, and is awaiting Assembly action.
When the state works out marijuana sale regulations, applicants in communities of color are expected to get the licenses first. That could happen by the end of this year.