MANHATTAN (PIX11) — New York’s first legal weed dispensary is set to open Thursday.
On the eve of its grand opening, PIX11 News got a look inside Housing Works Cannabis, located at 750 Broadway, near Astor Place.
Last month, the state granted 36 licenses. 28 were given to business owners, prioritizing people who had served time behind bars for marijuana-related offenses. Eight additional licenses were issued to nonprofits like Housing Works, which serves people affected by HIV and homelessness. Proceeds from sales at the Housing Works store will go toward its programs.
Retail license holders will be joining a market already filled with unlicensed sellers, but license holders feel they have the edge. Sasha Nugent is the Retail Manager of Housing Works Cannabis.
“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.”
The licensed businesses are expected to generate tax revenue for the city. While Mayor Eric Adams has said his administration will crack down on unsanctioned weed shops, it has primarily been an unregulated industry, especially after decriminalizing pot.
Attorney Michael Bass is co-chair of the cannabis law group at Abrams-Fensterman.
“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,” said Bass. “I think cracking down on them is imperative for the legal program to work.”
In the meantime, the state is expected to grant more licenses soon, changing the industry’s landscape. Karli Miller-Hornick, with Florist Farms in Cortland, New York, is calling this a game changer. She is one of the first hemp and cannabis growers in the state and is now a supplier for the Housing Works shop.
“We are living in the dark ages. Cannabis has been legal in the state of California for over 10 years, over a decade, so I’m excited this day has finally come,” said Miller-Hornick. “It’s really going to change so many lives both for our company and our town.”
Housing Works Cannabis opens to the public Thursday 4:20 p.m.