Housing Works Gets First Legal Adult-Use Cannabis Sales in New York

Housing Works will begin sales in Manhattan next week.

New York will meet its self-imposed end-of-year deadline to launch recreational cannabis sales, with 48 hours to spare.

At the state’s Cannabis Control Board meeting Wednesday, the agency’s executive director revealed that the first licensed adult-use marijuana sales will take place Dec. 29 at a dispensary run by the nonprofit Housing Works, one of the 36 retail license recipients announced a month ago.

The 4,400-square-foot dispensary will be located at 750 Broadway in the Astor Place neighborhood of Manhattan, according to a press release. Sales will open to the public at 4:20 p.m. on Dec. 29. Thereafter, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, according to the release.

“We could not be more proud to open the market than we are,” Chris Alexander, the executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management, told the board. “We set a course nine months ago, to execute the Seeding Opportunity Initiative with family farmers across New York growing the first crop of adult-use cannabis, and justice-involved individuals leading the way on the retail side. I’m incredibly proud of what this team has been able to do together, and I can’t wait to join the celebration on the 29th when we have the first legal, tested adult-use cannabis sales in New York.”

Housing Works is a minority-controlled nonprofit that focuses on helping those with HIV/AIDS, Alexander said. As part of that, it also runs a small chain of charitable retail outlets.

“This is a once in a lifetime moment,” Sasha Nutgent, Store Manager of Housing Works Cannabis Co., said in the release. “We are eager to take the lead as a social equity model for America’s cannabis industry, specifically with our hiring practices and continued support of individuals and communities disproportionately impacted by the unjust War on Drugs.”

The news also means that an earlier announcement by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York about the first social equity retail site being in Harlem is for a different licensee.

The OCM also extended the license application window for marijuana testing labs to March 31, from its originally scheduled closure of New Year’s Eve, Alexander said, adding that the state is still looking for top-notch lab candidates.

“That is a cornerstone of the market that we’re building,” he said.

Alexander also said that the state is rolling out more resources to support the legal marijuana market and to suppress the thriving illicit trade, including:

  • A public education campaign called “Why Buy Legal New York.”
  • A new verification emblem to be displayed by licensed retailers.
  • Ongoing enforcement against unlicensed retailers, including the seizure of more than $4 million in illegal cannabis products from 53 locations by the New York City Sheriff’s joint task force.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved another three cultivation permits, bringing the statewide total to 280 conditional farming licenses, and an additional six processor applicants for a new total of 38 conditional licenses.

John Schroyer

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