NY Marijuana Sales: The first public sales of regulated cannabis in New York will begin Thursday at 4:20 p.m.


The first public sales of regulated cannabis in New York will begin at a dispensary in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday at 4:20 p.m., hours after the first sale to a city official, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced.

Housing Works Cannabis Company will become the first licensed dispensary in the state to open its site for business, Hochul said in a press release.

The clinic is run by Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that serves people living with HIV/AIDS and homeless and formerly incarcerated people, Hochul said. The store will be open seven days a week and all proceeds will go to Housing Works, which runs a « network of charity storefronts », according to the statement.

“We set a course just nine months ago to get New York’s adult-use cannabis market off on the right foot by prioritizing fairness, and now we’re achieving that goal,” Hochul said.

The measure will attempt to address racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests with a social and economic equity agenda to « facilitate those disproportionately impacted by the cannabis crackdown, » city officials said.

The program includes « the creation of a target of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman-owned business, or distressed farmers or disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry » , said a press release from the city.

« Today marks an important milestone in our efforts to create the fairest cannabis industry in the country, » New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday.

« The legal cannabis market has the potential to be a major boon to New York’s economic recovery – creating new jobs, creating wealth in historically underserved communities, and increasing state and local tax revenues. “, said Adams.

In March 2021, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing recreational marijuana use statewide by adults 21 and older after the Senate and the State Assembly voted to approve the legislation. The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act also voids previous marijuana-related convictions for actions that would be legal under the new law.

The bill allows adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis from licensed sellers. Adults can also possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate. Eighteen months after the start of the first sales, the law will allow adults to grow six mature and six immature plants at home per household.

It also establishes the Office of Cannabis Management, an independent office operating under the New York State Liquor Authority, to implement a regulatory framework. The office was designed to have a two-tier licensing structure that would separate growers and processors from those who own retail stores, Cuomo’s office previously said.

The law will also add a 13% retail sales tax to state and local tax revenue.

The development of a regulated cannabis industry in New York has the potential to create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs and the ability to earn $350 million a year in tax revenue, CNN previously reported.

New York’s Cannabis Control Board issued the first 36 adult-use retail licenses on Nov. 21, including 28 for qualifying businesses and eight for nonprofits, according to Hochul’s office.

Housing Works received over 2,000 responses to its invitation to RSVP for the grand opening. The line outside the store already stretched into the block before 4:20 p.m., Charles King, chief executive of Housing Works, told CNN on Thursday. King says the nonprofit hopes to have a total of three marijuana dispensaries in Manhattan by the end of 2023.

« I don’t know if we’ll actually be able to serve everyone for the three hours of operation, » King said. « People are impatient. »

New York State has contracts with various labs to test all cannabis products intended for sale for adult recreational use, King said. The biggest challenge, he adds, was finding enough products to sell.

Members of the media take photos before the opening of the first legal cannabis dispensary in New York City on December 29, 2022.

Customers must show their state or federal ID to make a purchase at the dispensary.

« We are required by regulation to file everyone who enters the store to ensure they are over 21 and to take documentation that we have in fact made this card, » King said.

The federal marijuana ban hasn’t slowed down one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. More than two-thirds of US states have legalized cannabis in some way. California was the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, the medical use of cannabis has been legalized in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Recreational cannabis use is legal in DC and 21 states.

Ballot measures in Missouri and Maryland to legalize recreational marijuana passed in the 2022 midterm elections as momentum grew nationwide to push for the lifting of sanctions formerly associated with cannabis.

A Pew Research Center poll in October found that 59% of adults think marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 30% think it should be legal only for medical use. However, only 10% of adults say smoking marijuana shouldn’t be legal, according to the survey.

In October, President Joe Biden took the first major steps by a U.S. president to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession by pardoning all previous federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana, a move that senior US officials say administration, would affect thousands of Americans accused of this crime.

Biden also instructed the Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Merrick Garland to « promptly » review how marijuana is provided for under federal law.

The New York bill follows the legalization of marijuana in neighboring New Jersey. In February 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed bills to legalize and regulate marijuana use for ages 21 and older, decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana, and clarify the use of marijuana and cannabis and possession penalties for those under 21.

There are large racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests nationwide, according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union.

« On average, a black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, » the ACLU said. in a 2020 report.

“In every state, black people were more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana, and in some states black people were up to six, eight, or nearly 10 times more likely to be arrested,” the report said.

Policymakers and industry members must not lose sight of how individuals, especially people of color, continue to be criminalized for activities that are now legal at the state level, previously told CNN Amber Littlejohn, CEO of the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

« First and foremost, we need to get people out of jail, and we need to stop arresting people for doing things that people make a lot of money for, » Littlejohn said.

People of color also face huge barriers within the industry. Attempts have been made to create pathways into the industry for those with nonviolent marijuana convictions whose communities have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. But those efforts have been largely unsuccessful due to state policies that limit licensing, fail to provide financial and business resources to people of color, and benefit deeper-pocketed multi-state operators, Littlejohn says.

« I think one of the biggest issues is that there seems to be an incredible disconnect between what people say they support and believe and what [becomes law], » she said. « It’s up to us, the collective us, to hold people accountable. »

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