New York’s first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana opens doors

From the long-empty husk of a Manhattan retail chain, new life blooms – in the form of the state of New York’s first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana, which was set to open on Thursday at 4.20pm.

Housing Works Cannabis Company will roll out retail adult-use weed sales at a shop on Broadway and Astor Place in Lower Manhattan – a former Gap outpost – with items such as edibles priced from $20 and flowers from $40, according to NBC New York.

All proceeds from these pot purchases “go back to fund our services and advocacy, which include housing, healthcare, and people living with HIV and chronic illness”, the creative director of the non-profit Housing Works, Elizabeth Koke, told the station.

New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, added: “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.

“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.”

The opening of Housing Works’ 4,400-square-foot weed shop comes after fits and starts in New York’s cannabis industry. In 2019, possession of the psychoactive plant was largely decriminalized.

Then, in March 2021, state lawmakers greenlit legal, adult-use cannabis, planting the seeds for regulated sales. State regulators prioritized equity in determining license recipients, reserving many for applicants who had past marijuana-related convictions as well as some non-profits.


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