Illegal cannabis shops have been flourishing in New York City since marijuana was legalized for adult use in March 2021. But with the first licensed, recreational dispensaries set to open by the end of this year, Mayor Eric Adams is cracking down on illegal sales.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Adams announced the creation of a joint task force to weed out illegal dispensaries. It is a partnership between the New York City Sheriff’s Office, the NYPD, the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protections and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.
The task force is targeting unlicensed sales of tobacco and vapes in addition to unregulated THC products. And it’s already getting to work. More than 100,000 illegal products worth about $4 million were seized and 53 storefronts investigated across the city over the course of two recent weeks, Adams said.
“To those who believe this is going to become the Wild, Wild West of cannabis sales, we are saying clearly and loudly, ‘No, it is not,’” Adams said.
He went on to talk about the dangers of unregulated cannabis products, noting that some are packaged like candy and could appeal to children. Licensed products are subject to strict regulations about how they can be packaged and marketed.
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the state has created a special seal to be posted in store windows that will let consumers know if a shop is licensed to sell marijuana.
This story will be updated.