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New York Recreational Cannabis Sales Kick off Before the New Year

Ed Knight

By Ed Knight

December 30, 2022

Close-up of persons hands giving money and taking package with ganja marihuana sign on it. Pack with cannabis sign on table. Sale of medical marijuana concept

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The first legal sales of recreational marijuana kicked off on Thursday in the Empire State, with hordes of eager customers gathering at a dispensary in Manhattan. State Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has made it a priority to get the New York recreational cannabis program up and running since she took office last year, hailed the moment as an important moment in the state’s new post-prohibition era.

“The first legal adult-use cannabis sales mark a historic milestone in New York’s cannabis industry,”

“Today is only the beginning, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to solidify New York as a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”

The first state-sanctioned cannabis retailer is owned by Housing Works, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits dedicated to providing services to individuals living with HIV and AIDS.

All proceeds from the dispensary, which is located near Astor Place in Manhattan, will go toward Housing Works.

Hochul’s office said that the inaugural purchase at the dispensary on Thursday “was made by Chris Alexander, Executive Director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, a former advocate who spent years fighting for, and crafting, the bill that legalized cannabis in the Empire State.”

“New York is leading,” Alexander told the New York Times, which noted that he made the historic purchase “before the doors were opened to the public at 4:20 p.m.” 

“I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again, equity is not a thing. It’s the thing. It is what we are doing,” Alexander added. 

that store managers “said they were expecting more than 2,000 visitors on Thursday and to sell out of products by Saturday.”

“By midafternoon, a line of customers had formed stretching from the storefront around the corner to Astor Place and Lafayette Street. Inside, a D.J. played upbeat music as guests grazed on hors d’oeuvres and fruity drinks,”

“At 7 p.m., closing time, store managers cut off the line, and dozens of customers lucky enough to make the cutoff were still waiting inside to purchase items an hour later,”

.

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A Slower Start for New York Recreational Cannabis Sales

The opening of the dispensary means that Hochul will deliver on a promise to have the state-regulated marijuana market up and running before the end of the year — but only just barely. 

In October, Hochul, a Democrat, said that she expected “the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year.”

“And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful,”

.

, the Housing Works-owned dispensary “will be the only one for a while.”

The paper

that more “stores are expected to come online early next year, but resources promised to them by the state have failed to materialize, and a legal challenge has stalled progress in areas including Brooklyn and Buffalo.”

The state’s Cannabis Control Board, the chief regulator of the new adult-use cannabis program, issued the first 36 recreational retail licenses in November.

New York announced earlier this year that the first licenses will be awarded to individuals with a prior cannabis conviction, or a family member of an individual with such a conviction.

Tremaine Wright, the chairwoman of the Cannabis Control Board,

that Thursday marked a “truly a historic day in the history of New York State.”

“For years we fought to make sure New York not only legalized cannabis but did so in a way that ensures this cannabis market is driven and led by social equity. I am proud to say, with non-profit Housing Works making today’s first cannabis retail sale, we are well on our way to achieve that goal and fulfill our commitment to all New Yorkers. I cannot thank Governor Kathy Hochul, the rest of the Cannabis Control Board, or the staff of the Office of Cannabis Management enough for their ongoing work to achieve these goals,” Wright said.

Ed Knight

About The Author

Ed Knight

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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