This week, New York City’s burgeoning cannabis retail market took a huge step with the opening of the first licensed marijuana dispensary in the city. Marijuana was legalized by New York state in March 2021, and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management was created to oversee licensing throughout the state. The agency made the decision that the first business licenses would go to people who had prior arrests or convictions related to marijuana. Last month, officials approved the first 36 licenses for dispensaries and on Thursday, the first shop, run by the nonprofit group HousingWorks in Manhattan’s East Village, opened for business. The nonprofit said they are aiming to generate $1 million in revenue in its first year of sales.
It was a lengthy process for legal cannabis sales in New York, which took longer than expected and was further delayed by a federal lawsuit from a Michigan-based company over awarding the first licenses to New Yorkers with former Marijuana-related arrests or convictions. However, it happened just in time to meet the state’s deadline to open a dispensary in 2022 and led to lines around the block. Retail cannabis sales will have a 13 percent state and local tax added, which is expected to generate $350 million in tax revenue annually. The transition to a legal market with more retail shops opening may certainly be bumpy, as the rise of illegal stores flourished during the delayed licensing process. Despite concerns from residents, cannabis retail has actually been shown to increase the value of nearby properties.