The first legal recreational marijuana dispensary opens in New York City

New York’s first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana kicked off its first round of sales on Thursday, opening what is expected to be one of the country’s most lucrative cannabis markets – highlighted strong by dozens Unauthorized shop has been in the open air for many years.

The opening of the first state-sanctioned clinic, run by the nonprofit Housing Works, is widely expected, paving the way for a much-anticipated series of openings in the coming months in the country. New York. The state legalized recreational marijuana use in March 2021.

Charles King, chief executive officer of Housing Works, a minority-controlled social service agency serving people living with HIV, said: “We are extremely excited to be the first and hope to be the first. Set a model that others will follow. AIDS, as well as the homeless and incarcerated.

The lower Manhattan store is the first of 36 Recently licensed dispensary will open, with 139 additional licenses not yet issued by the state Office of Cannabis and Regulatory Affairs 900 candidates Still waiting for news. Among the first licensees were eight nonprofits including Housing Works.

The cannabis storefront adjoins the sprawling urban campus of New York University.

“This location is a perfect location. We’re in the middle of the West Village, the East Village,” King said at a news conference Thursday morning. “Tourists can come here easily. So we think we’re going to bring in a lot of sales here.”

Faced with a cluster of cameras, Chris Alexander, the newly inaugurated executive director of the state cannabis office, made his first purchase: watermelon-flavored marshmallows and a box of marijuana flowers.

“We had to do a lot of work to get to this point,” Alexander said. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of stores to open.”

Housing Works officials say the clinic has received more than 2,000 reservations for purchases.

Ben Gilbert, 38, a communications specialist, smoked a cigarette outside the new retail store and said he was looking forward to the store opening at 4:20 p.m. Thursday.

“As a consumer, I am delighted to finally go to a store and buy New York grown cannabis,” he said.

New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera also bought gum and said she doesn’t need to travel out of state to buy legal marijuana anymore. She predicts that more openings will benefit the state and city economies.

“We are the financial center of the world, the biggest city on earth, and I think people will come here to enjoy everything,” she said.

New York has joined nearly two dozen other states in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana. But unlike many other states, New York has reserved its first round of retail licensing for nonprofits, as well as convicted marijuana applicants and their loved ones — an admission. about the inequality created by the country’s war on drugs.

It also plans to create a $200 million public-private fund to support social justice businesses, which the law defines as those owned by women or minorities, farmers struggling populations, disabled veterans and people from heavily gated communities.

“We have seen firsthand the devastation the war on drugs has on drug users, especially the most disadvantaged, those on low incomes,” said King.

King says his nonprofit is hiring people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses. Housing Works, he said, pursued the permit application because it wanted “an opportunity to ameliorate some of the extreme circumstances associated with the criminalization of marijuana and other drugs.”

“Today marks an important milestone in our efforts to create the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “The opening of our state’s first legal clinic right here in New York City is not only a promising step forward for this budding industry — it also represents a new chapter for for those most harmed by failed policies of the past.”

Adams won his seat on a hardline on crime, rejecting calls by progressive activists to bring down the police. He promised to strike the right balance between fighting crime and ending racial injustice in policing. As mayor, he has proposed increasing spending on police and prisons.

Governor Kathy Hochul called the first legal adult sale of marijuana “a historic milestone in the New York cannabis industry.”

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