New York's first legal dispensary for recreational marijuana opened Thursday. Housing Works Cannabis Company rolled out retail adult-use weed sales at a shop in Lower Manhattan with items such as edibles priced at $20 and flowers from $40, reports The Guardian. All proceeds from the pot purchases “go back to fund our services and advocacy, which include housing, healthcare, and people living with HIV and chronic illness”, said Housing Works' Elizabeth Koke. Mayor, Eric Adams said that opening the dispensary "marks a major milestone in our efforts to create the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation." Adams said that the legal cannabis market has the potential to be a major boon in New York's economy by creating jobs, building wealth 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. In March 2021, state lawmakers greenlit legal, adult-use cannabis, planting the seeds for regulated sales, reserving many for applicants who have past marijuana-related convictions. The first cultivation licenses for adult-use hemp were issued in April, and the first retail licenses were issued in November 2022. During the period between spring 2021 and now, some aspiring Sativa sellers decided not to wait and started hawking hash without obtaining a license. Some people have set up modest folding tables in the famed Washington Square Park and on street corners while other vendors boldly advertise bud from storefronts on major Manhattan thoroughfares. New York state cannabis officials said they are making sure entrepreneurs are aware of licensing requirements and are ramping up enforcement, including seizures of unlawfully sold products.