New York’s first legal recreational cannabis dispensary is opening in Manhattan next week. Housing Works, a local nonprofit founded in 1990 to address the HIV/AIDS and homelessness crises, will launch sales at 1 Astor Place on December 29, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday. The dispensary is the first to open of the 36 licenses approved so far by the New York State Cannabis Control Board.
As Gothamist reported, Housing Works Cannabis Co. will offer up to 100 products from six to nine brands at a range of price points, including edibles and pre-rolled joints. The shop, located at a shuttered Gap store at 750 Broadway, will continue to build out over the coming weeks and sell more products as they come available, according to a press release.
All proceeds from dispensary sales will go to Housing Works, which provides housing and health care services, legal advocacy, and job opportunities to low-income New Yorkers. The group also operates a chain of thrift stores and a bookstore in Soho.
“This is a once in a lifetime moment,” Sasha Nutgent, store manager of Housing Works Cannabis Co, said. “That said, our nonprofit’s mission remains as urgent as ever. 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 opening comes under the state’s “Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” which allows individuals with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses to make the first adult-use cannabis sales with products grown by farmers in New York. Under the initiative, 280 farmers have been issued licenses to grow cannabis.
New York’s first dispensaries will be opened by business operators, or close family members, who have a cannabis conviction or non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals who “have been harmed by the unequal enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” according to Hochul’s office.
To qualify, nonprofits like Housing Works need to have at least one justice-involved board member and create job opportunities for those with a marijuana conviction.
“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. “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.”
As part of the soft opening, Housing Works Cannabis Co will be open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A few blocks north, the nonprofit the Doe Fund plans to open a dispensary in a former Chase bank on Broadway and 13th Street, the New York Post reported last week.
Ahead of legal, regulated cannabis in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams this month announced a two-week crackdown on unlicensed businesses selling cannabis, edibles, and illegal vaping products, cigarettes, and other tobacco products. The pilot program conducted by the city’s Sheriff’s Office, the NYPD, the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and the state’s Office of Cannabis Management led to the seizure of more than $4 million worth of products.
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