EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — The first legal recreational marijuana dispensary in New York City is set to open for business Thursday afternoon in Manhattan’s East Village.

At 4:20 p.m., Housing Works Cannabis on Broadway will be the first to legally sell recreational weed out of a New York storefront.

Housing Works, a nonprofit that will put the proceeds of its sales toward its mission of helping those affected by HIV and homelessness, will operate one of the 36 dispensaries recently licensed statewide. Opening dates for the other stores are to be announced.

Twenty-eight licenses were granted to business owners, with a preference given to people who had previously been incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. The other eight went to nonprofits like Housing Works.

The licensed businesses are expected to face competition from unsanctioned weed shops that have opened up across the city — particularly since marijuana was decriminalized — and have operated largely unregulated.

The New York City Sheriff’s Office, however, recently announced a crackdown on the unlicensed shops, seizing some $4 million in products and issuing approximately 500 violations citywide.

“The Office of Cannabis Management has been working with law enforcement to crack down on illegal sales of cannabis, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon,” attorney Michael Bass, co-chair of the cannabis law group at Abrams-Fensterman, recently said. “I think cracking down on them is imperative for the legal program to work.” 

In the interim, Sasha Nugent, retail manager of Housing Works Cannabis, encouraged New Yorkers to shop legal, touting the safety of their product.

“We’re backed by New York State as far as testing goes,” said Nugent. “That layer of safety and everything is triple-checked before it enters our store, so that’s basically why you should shop with us.”