On December 29 just before the end of 2022, New York officially launched legal adult use sales in the state, but at only one location. The nonprofit dispensary Housing Works Cannabis Co. held a grand opening party complete with music, speeches from politicians and regulators and very, very long lines.
Chris Alexander, executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management (NYOCM), had the honor of making the first legal purchase, a pack of gummies and an eighth of flower, at the dispensary on the afternoon of December 29. “It’s been a lot of work that’s come to get us to this point,” Alexander told reporters on location. “We do have a lot more work to do, a lot more stores to open.”
New York originally legalized adult use cannabis in early 2021. Following almost two years of setbacks, missed deadlines and failed promises, the state just barely met one deadline: opening a dispensary in 2022. Governor Kathy Hochul has previously said that twenty stores would be doing business before the end of 2022. According to NPR, 36 dispensaries have been licensed, the NYOCM has another 139 licenses they need to issue and there are roughly 900 applicants that are still waiting.
To many in the cannabis space, New York is expected to become a massive boon to the country’s cannabis economy. It is just taking a bit longer than expected to materialize. Roy Bingham, CEO of BDSA predicts it will be the second largest contributor to growth in cannabis sales through 2026, just behind Florida. “With nearly 15 million residents over the age of 21 and tens of millions more tourists visiting the state annually, New York is one of the most exciting cannabis opportunities in 2023,” says Bingham. “Despite some expected growing pains in the early years, the market is expected to be the second largest contributor to sales growth through 2026, following Florida.” More dispensaries in New York are expected to open their doors in the early weeks of 2023.
In another second-place finish, New York follows New Jersey as the second state in the tri-state area to legalize adult use sales. New Jersey launched its market in April of 2022.
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