The first legal marijuana dispensary for recreational use in New York is scheduled to open on December 29, heralding the eagerly anticipated start of one of the nation’s most profitable cannabis industries.
Even though dozens of illegal shops have been operating for many months, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday that Housing Works, a minority-controlled nonprofit in Manhattan that assists those with HIV and AIDS, will be the first of 36 recently licensed dispensaries to start selling cannabis to the general public.
The announcement came one month after the state’s Cannabis Control Board issued the first round of licenses, marking a significant step toward creating a legal market for marijuana.
About 900 applications are awaiting word on their status as the state is anticipated to grant an additional 139 licenses in the upcoming months.
In her announcement, Hochul stated that the business would “continue to grow from here, creating inclusive opportunity in every part of New York State with earnings channeled to our schools and rejuvenating communities.”
In March 2021, recreational marijuana usage became legal in New York.
One of the eight nonprofit organizations among the inaugural licensees was Housing Works, which provides services to the homeless and ex-offenders.
According to Charles King, chief executive officer of Housing Works, “this opportunity will not only allow our team the resources to promote our entire goal, but to feature and elevate products coming from LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and women-led cannabis firms across the state.”
For applicants with prior marijuana convictions, their families, and some charitable organizations, the state set aside its initial wave of retail licenses.
A $200 million public-private fund was also proposed to support “social equity” applicants.