Cops plan to crack down on the drug dealers peddling pot amid families and tourists in Washington Square Park, a law-enforcement source said Monday — just hours after The Post exposed the open-air “green” market.
The NYPD had been largely turning a blind eye to the illegal activity because of the state’s recent legalization of weed but will begin patrolling the problem-plagued Greenwich Village recreation area at the request of the city Parks Department, sources said Monday.
Since then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law in March legalizing pot, dealers have been flooding into Manhattan, one source said. But sales are still banned because the state has yet to license any dispensaries.
“They’re coming from all over,” the source said of the pot dealers.
“The problem is the public thinks that [selling weed is] legal, so we’re getting inundated.”
During a meeting of the state Cannabis Control Board last week, Chair Tremaine Wright said officials were “hearing many examples of sales of marijuana products by individual vendors and retail locations.
“Any individuals selling cannabis or marijuana products in these unlicensed dispensaries, pop-up shops or markets is not licensed, nor are they selling safe, tested products,” Wright said.
“There is no gray market in New York state. This conduct is not legal and must stop.”
On Sunday, The Post found five separate groups of dealers openly selling weed in broad daylight amid the other vendors gathered around the fountain across from the park’s iconic arch.
One dealer said he and two pals first set up shop there about two weeks ago, adding that there are usually “10 or 15 marijuana tables” on Friday and Saturday nights.
A 31-year-old dealer named “Puff” was manning one of three tables laden with pot items for sale at the park Monday — accepting Apple Pay and Venmo for $70 bags of weed with former President Obama’s face on them.
“If [the cops] take us out of here tonight, there is going to be someone else tomorrow,” Puff said.
“All the tourists love us!” insisted the pot dealer, who lives in Brooklyn. “Everyone’s giving us compliments on the weed, on the vibe we give off. Nobody ever complained about this to us. Why lock us up?!”
Amanda Sears — a 24-year-old local artist who bought two hand-rolled joints off Puff for a total of $30 — agreed.
“Everybody likes it like this,” she said. “You can ask questions and come back if it’s no good. So it’s always good — so good it’s ridiculous!
“Who cares about the cops?!” Sears said. “Why are they going to exacerbate this?! It’s legal now. Move on. Go stop some real crime. Jesus!”
As she spoke, there were two cops from the Sixth Precinct stationed by the park’s arch just yards away, sitting in the front of a marked NYPD van.
When asked by a Post reporter whether they were there to roust the illegal dealers, the officers said no, they were only “securing the arch.” They didn’t elaborate.
“Why do they come and hang out under the arch and watch us buy here if it’s not legal?” Sears said.
Steven Robitzsch, 43, who works in IT and lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, said he figured the pot sales were legit because of the cops’ hands-off attitude.
“There will be cops standing right there and not stopping [the dealers] so, I figured it was cool,” Robitzsch said. “I was surprised. I went up and asked [the dealers]. I said, I know it was made legal, but I didn’t know you could sell it like this, in a park.”
He said the dealer told him he had a “permit” he got online.
One NYPD source said blamed the out-of-control situation in part on Police Commissioner Dermot Shea’s controversial decision to eliminate the department’s undercover anti-crime units last year.
The cop said police brass don’t want officers on patrol making arrests for drug dealing “unless you can observe it happening in your presence.
“And remember: there’s no more plainclothes units,” the cop said.
Another source said that due to the state’s lenient bail laws, the looming crackdown wouldn’t even result in any dealers getting immediately taken off the streets.
“It’s a summons,” the cop said.
“You’re getting arrested but you’re not going into the system. You’re not going before a judge.”
In a statement, the NYPD said cops from the Sixth Precinct conducted “six joint operations with the Parks Department … to address issues in Washington Square Park” over the past two weeks.
The actions resulted in “multiple arrests” and 13 summonses to appear before the city’s Office Administrative Trials and Hearings, the NYPD said.
The Parks Department said the summonses were issued to unspecified “vendors” for violating park rules.
“We will continue to coordinate with NYPD and adjust our approach as needed,” Parks Department spokeswoman Megan Moriarty said.
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), the prime sponsor of the legalization bill, said licenses could be issued by October 2022.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan and Julia Marsh