NY’s first legal pot dispensary to open in Manhattan on Dec. 29

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The first legal adult-use cannabis sales in the state has set to start Dec. 29 at Housing Works Cannabis Co., members of the state Cannabis Control Board announced Wednesday.

Housing Works, a New York City-based nonprofit, will open Housing Works Cannabis Co. — the state’s first legal adult-use cannabis dispensary — next week at 750 Broadway in Manhattan.

State officials have said for months the first legal adult-use cannabis sales in the state would happen by the end of the year, and they’ll make that deadline with two days to spare.

“The team has been working really hard to get the supply chain operational,” Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said Wednesday. “These initial steps are so crucial, and I think that we set the right tone by saying that those who have been impacted should be first.”

Housing Works, which advocates and provides services for people without housing, as well as people living with HIV and AIDS, currently operates a dozen thrift stores and a bookstore in New York City.

It was one of eight nonprofits that secured conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses from the state’s Cannabis Control Board in November.

The state Office of Cannabis Management chose Housing Works as part of efforts keep people affected by former drug laws at the helm of New York’s developing marijuana industry.

Housing Works was one of eight nonprofits granted a retail license, but set up its dispensary the fastest. The others continue to secure locations and reserve product from growers and processors.

“I can’t call exactly the time frame there, but I know they’re right on the other side of the horizon and we’re happy to have Housing Works to get started, though,” Alexander said. “We’re going to keep working very hard to get the rest of the licensees through and to make sure we have a full market here in New York.”

The board, which is within the Office of Cannabis Management, held its final meeting of the year in Albany on Wednesday approving conditional licenses for three cultivators and six processors.

But many retail applicants continue to hang in limbo from a federal lawsuit that halted those licenses in half the state.

Trevonne Gilliard applied to open three dispensaries in Sullivan and Ulster counties with her husband, but they’re on hold.

During the public comment period, she asked board members for an update of where applicants like her stand so they can properly plan for success.

“Maybe they can just let us know where we stand on that list so we know where we’re moving forward with our time and our resources, or if we’re just gonna let it go,” Gilliard said.

Farmers and growers are nervous about the delay for dispensaries, fearing they won’t be able to sell their cannabis flower and products before they go bad.

“No one wants to be in a bad situation where they’re doing something that is illegal, but they’ve invested all of their time and resources into this and now unfortunately, one guy from Michigan is disrupting the whole process for all of us,” Gilliard said.

OCM officials declined to comment on pending litigation, but say it won’t stop the growth of the state’s cannabis industry.

“I know there’s frustration, we hear you,” Alexander said. “We believe that we have to get this market up and running and we’re committed to doing that, so we’re working on it and we hope to get some clarity to everybody soon in those five regions that are being held back right now from participating in this opportunity.”

The Cannabis Control Board continues to review hundreds of retail applications and is expected to approve more in January. Its next meeting has not been sent.

The board last month also awarded licenses to 28 qualifying businesses. The nonprofits that received licenses had to have at least one justice-involved board member and create vocational opportunities for those with a marijuana conviction, according to the governor’s office.

The 4,400-square-foot Housing Works Cannabis Co. space will initially be open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the governor’s office said.

In a statement, Housing Works CEO Charles King said opening the dispensary would “not only give our team the resources to further our overall mission,” but also allow the nonprofit to “feature and elevate products coming from LGBTQ+, BIPOC and women-led cannabis brands across the state.”

“At our core, we’re a healing community dedicated to providing housing, healthcare and vocational programs for New Yorkers,” King said.

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