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,”
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.
“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,”
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 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,
“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.