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New York Launches Adult-Use Cannabis Sales With First Dispensary Opening

First Dispensary Opens New York
PHOTO Tony Wiek


New York Launches Adult-Use Cannabis Sales With First Dispensary Opening

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in New York on Thursday with the opening of the state’s first adult-use cannabis dispensary in Manhattan.

Regulated sales of adult-use cannabis began in New York on Thursday with the opening of the state’s first licensed adult-use cannabis dispensary in Manhattan. The new retailer, operated by the nonprofit organization Housing Works, opened the doors of its new retail location in the East Village at 4:20 p.m. The opening of the dispensary heralds the launch of New York’s new adult-use cannabis economy, which is expected to soon be one of the most lucrative regulated marijuana markets in the nation.

“Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to create the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation. The opening of the first legal dispensary in our state right here in New York City is more than just a promising step for this budding industry—it represents a new chapter for those most harmed by the failed policies of the past,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “The legal cannabis market has the potential to be a major boon to New York’s economic recovery—creating new jobs, building wealth in historically underserved communities and increasing state and local tax revenue.”

Chris Alexander, Executive Director of NY’s Office of Cannabis Management, Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Borough President of Manhattan Mark at Housing Works Cannabis Co in Manhattan. PHOTO Gary Gershoff/Wire Image.

New York Legalized Adult-Use Cannabis Last Year

The New York State legislature legalized adult-use cannabis last year with the passage of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was signed into law by former governor Andrew Cuomo on March 31, 2021. Last week, his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, announced that retail sales of cannabis would begin in New York on December 29, fulfilling a pledge to get the regulated adult-use cannabis market up and running before the end of 2022.

“Since the MRTA was signed, now nearly two years ago, we’ve all been envisioning the moment that legal adult-use sales would finally launch here in New York,” Allan Gandelman, president of the Cannabis Association of New York (CANY), said in an emailed statement. “The state’s first recreational dispensary opening its doors with shelves stocked full of New York-owned-and-operated brands, including products grown and processed by CANY members, is a culmination of all the hard work, dedication and advocacy of the cannabis community over the past several years.”

New York cannabis regulators reserved the first 150 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses for individuals with past marijuana-related convictions and nonprofit groups serving those harmed by prohibition. Last month, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) issued the initial 36 licenses to 28 individuals and eight nonprofit groups including Housing Works.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be the first and hopefully setting a model that other folks will have to follow,” said Charles King, the chief executive officer of Housing Works, a minority-controlled social services organization that serves the formerly incarcerated, those experiencing homelessness and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Before officially opening its doors, Housing Works Cannabis Co had made more than 2,000 reservations for customers to make purchases of cannabis products. The new dispensary storefront is located at 750 Broadway in the Astor Place neighborhood of Manhattan’s East Village. Spanning 4,400 square feet, the iconic building known as 1 Astor Place was completed in 1883.

Charles King, Housing Works CEO and Chris Alexander, Executive Director of NY’s Office of Cannabis Management, speaking to the press outside of the dispensary. PHOTO Gary Gershoff/Wire Image.

“For us, this dispensary is an opportunity to provide employment opportunities to people who have experienced the harms of cannabis criminalization,” King said. “We’re humbled to be able to provide ongoing training to help people advance into cannabis as a career in addition to educating our community on cannabis as the market continues to evolve. We’re also looking forward to reinvesting profits to further Housing Works’ mission of providing lifesaving services for tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need.”

Top Cannabis Regulator Makes First Purchase

Before the dispensary opened to the public on Thursday, the business made New York’s first regulated sale of recreational marijuana products to Chris Alexander, the OCM executive director. Alexander purchased an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flower and a package of infused watermelon-flavored gummies, according to media reports.

“It’s been a lot of work that’s come to get us to this point,” Alexander told reporters. “We do have a lot more work to do, a lot more stores to open.”

Dasheeda Dawson, Founding Director of NYC Cannabis, speaking at the soft opening press conference for Housing Works Cannabis Co on December 29, 2022. PHOTO Gary Gershoff/Wire Image.

Kristina Lopez Adduci, CEO and founder of House of Puff, one the cannabis suppliers with products for sale at The Housing Works Cannabis Co. on its first day of operation, hailed the historic nature of the launch of legal recreational marijuana sales in the Empire State.

“For years, advocates and members of New York’s cannabis community have been working toward this momentous milestone: the first adult-use dispensary opening its doors, stocked with brands and products grown, processed, manufactured and owned right here in New York,” Adduci said in an email.

“We’re ecstatic that House of Puff will be one of those New York brands that will be available for purchase and thank Housing Works for supporting us and other local cannabis companies during this crucial moment. The opening of their dispensary is just one embodiment of the vision set out by the MRTA and is a significant step towards establishing a fully operable and equitable legal cannabis industry built by and for New Yorkers and our communities most adversely affected by cannabis prohibition.”

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