Queens Councilman Holden introduces two bills addressing quality-of-life and public safety issues

Councilman Robert Holden.
Photo by Anthony Medina

Queens Councilman Robert Holden introduced two bills aimed at helping city agencies punish businesses selling cannabis illegally and another making the city’s Open Streets program available to first responders, at a city council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 14,

Holden’s bill, Intro 1172, would allow the Commissioner of Consumer and Worker Protection to refuse to renew, revoke, or suspend a tobacco retailer dealer license if discovered in violation of the New York State Cannabis Law. Those businesses found distributing cannabis products without a license, could face the possibility of losing their tobacco license for good.

The councilman’s legislation is aimed at further punishing businesses selling cannabis illegally, especially those presenting themselves as smoke shops.

The proposed legislation also would require the Commissioner of Consumer and Worker Protection to conduct an education and outreach campaign to inform licensees of the new grounds added by this local law for refusal to renew, suspension, or revocation of a license.

“The rise of illegal pot shops in our city is alarming, and we must address this situation,” Holden said. “If a store is disregarding the law by illegally selling cannabis, it makes sense that there are consequences to their tobacco license as well. This is about holding businesses accountable and ensuring our neighborhoods are safe.”

Holden’s second piece of legislation, Intro 1173, calls for the redesigning of the city’s Open Streets program to ensure that first responders could effortlessly access these streets for emergency vehicles. Changes to the initiative would also require the posting of signage to make visitors aware of emergency service accessibility.

“Public safety is paramount, and we’ve seen too many instances where first responders faced unnecessary delays due to accessibility issues at these streets,” Holden said. “This legislation is common sense — we cannot compromise on swift emergency responses, where every second counts.”

Councilman Holden serves the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside.