New York mayor Eric Adams has promised a restrained approach to illegal cannabis operators while the city waits for the licensing system regulating sales to be put in place.

New York mayor Eric Adams

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalise the sale of recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over in March 2021, but the licensing system isn’t expected to kick off until later this year.

In the meantime, unlicensed operators have popped up in the city, with Manhattan’s Times Square seeing an influx of cannabis trucks, but Adams said he saw no need for a crackdown.

“There needs to be a system of not heavy-handedness, but going in and explaining to that store that, ‘Listen, you can’t do this,’ give them a warning,” Adams told reporters at the Cannabis World Congress and Business expo last week.

Instead of fining or arresting them, he said he preferred to help steer illegal sellers towards the legal market, with US$5 million earmarked in his budget proposal to support those applying for retail and cultivation licences.

However, he warned there would need to be “some form” of enforcement, if warnings weren’t heeded.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...