Street Dealers Stake Claim in New York City

Slideshow of the competition for legal cannabis in Manhattan.

The New York adult-use cannabis program now has four legal stores open and operating. While the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has prided itself on its pivot to pushing the social justice applicants and nonprofits to the head of the line for licensing, that slowed the process to open stores as the OCM switched from the vertical structure used in the medical program to a completely opposite structure in the adult-use program.

Before the pivot, however, decriminalization was passed. When it seemed there might only be a six-month wait for stores to open it made sense. However, the delay created an opportunity for illegal stores to proliferate. While some call these legacy operators, they are mostly just opportunists.

There are still no real laws for the adult-use program, only suggested guidance. And there is no indication of when the actual laws will be passed.

The city said it will go after landlords that rent to illegal dispensaries, however except for a few highly public raids, little else has happened.

In addition to illegal storefronts, sidewalk dealers sell mostly California and Colorado cannabis at cheap prices with the ability for the consumer to look and smell their potential purchases – something they can’t do in a legal store.

The legal stores in Manhattan are also operating just a short distance from street dealers – and each other. The three stores are within a 10-15 minute walk from each other, a short walk for most New Yorkers.

The map below highlight the six-minute walk from the dealers in Washington Square to the legal dispensary Smacked.

It’s a 12-minute walk between Smacked Village and Housing Works Cannabis Company. Both are close to New York University, where roughly a third of the student population is under the age to buy legal cannabis.

Of course, street dealers don’t ask for ID.

We took a walk around the neighborhood to check out the competition for legal cannabis in Manhattan.

Click on the arrows in the lower corner of the image to advance the slideshow.



Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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