The executive director of New York’s office of cannabis management, Chris Alexander, makes the first purchase at Housing Works Cannabis Company. Photograph: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images
Mayor Eric Adams hails ‘major milestone’ as former Gap store in Lower Manhattan sells variety of cannabis-related products
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.
RELATED: New York has $750m worth of cannabis stockpiled that growers can’t sell
Cannabis farmers have ‘an unclear path to market’ as the state has yet to approve retail dispensaries
Marijuana plants hang in a drying room at a farm in Suffolk county, New York. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP
A strong smell of weed hangs over many New York neighborhoods, the result in part of cannabis decriminalization in 2019 – but cannabis growers in the state are at an impasse when it comes to getting their crops to market.
Almost 300,000 pounds of the drug, worth as much as $750m, from last summer’s production at 200 state-licensed farms are stockpiled, without a place to be sold and in danger of deteriorating, according to a Bloomberg report on Saturday.
Distribution issues are to blame. Although the New York City has vape shops selling marijuana and CBD products on almost every street, and there are mobile weed vans on Times Square, New York’s office of cannabis management has yet to approve retail dispensaries.
RELATED: First legal recreational marijuana dispensary in New York opens