You are here
Home > News > New York Governor Announces Start of Recreational Weed Sales

New York Governor Announces Start of Recreational Weed Sales

On Wednesday, Kathy Hochul, New York’s Governor announced that recreational marijuana sales will be regulated in New York. This was in conjunction with opening a retail store in Manhattan. The dispensary, which will be operated by Housing Works, the nation’s largest minority-controlled HIV/AIDS service organization and largest community-based HIV/AIDS service organization, will begin serving customers at its East Village location in New York City on December 29.

“We set a course just nine months ago to start New York’s adult-use cannabis market off on the right foot by prioritizing equity, and now, we’re fulfilling that goal,” Hochul said in a statement from the governor’s office. “The industry will continue to grow from here, creating inclusive opportunity in every corner of New York State with revenues directed to our schools and revitalizing communities.”

This dispensary is fulfilling a promise to begin retail sales of recreational cannabis in the state by the end of this year. New York’s state legislature passed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act last year. Former governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law on March 31st 2021. The launch of sales is also a milestone for Hochul’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which she announced in March to guide the rollout of New York’s regulated cannabis industry.

The initiative was designed to fulfill the goals of the MRTA “by building an adult-use cannabis industry that offsets the harms resulting from the disproportionate impact of cannabis prohibition.” Under the plan, 280 family farmers have been licensed to cultivate cannabis to provide safe, lab-tested products for New York’s regulated recreational marijuana economy. 

New York’s First Retail Licenses Issued in the Last Month

Seeding Opportunity Initiative reserved 150 Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses (CAURDs) for people with marijuana-related past convictions or nonprofit organizations serving the needs of those harmed under prohibition. The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) issued the initial 36 licenses to 28 individuals and 8 nonprofit groups last month.

Nonprofits must also have at least one member of the justice system on their board. They should also offer vocational options for people who are convicted for marijuana-related crimes. Housing Works was established in 1990 and has provided direct services to justice-involved New Yorkers as well as advocacy programs. The group’s Justice Initiative tailors the non-profit’s services to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals, including those with marijuana convictions.

“I’m excited that a non-profit like Housing Works, with its support for formerly incarcerated individuals, will lead the way with sales,” said Tremaine Wright, chairwoman of the New York Cannabis Control Board, the state’s cannabis regulatory body. “The start of sales through the Seeding Opportunity Initiative is just the beginning of the robust ecosystem we’re building – the equitable and inclusive market will grow from here with supports throughout to ensure licensees are able to overcome barriers and build this new industry.”

Housing Works Cannabis Co.’s dispensary shopfront can be found at 750 Broadway, in the Astor Place neighbourhood of East Village. Built in 4400 sq ft, 1 Astor Place is an iconic landmark. It was constructed in 1883. When the new dispensary opens in a week’s time, it will offer a free introductory experience to customers. As more cannabis products become available, plans are being made for expansion. Housing Works will get all the proceeds from sales of dispensaries.

Brian Vicente was a founding partner in Vicente Sederberg LLP’s cannabis and psychedelics legal firm Vicente Sederberg LLP. 

“New York continues to blaze a bold trail with its novel approach to adult use implementation,” Vicente wrote in an email to Chronic News. “Allowing Housing Works to make New York’s historic first legal cannabis sales is a stroke of genius, fulfilling the state’s goal of opening adult-use access before 2023 and honoring its commitment to promoting social equity businesses.”