New York Opens First Retail Cannabis Dispensary at 4:20 PM

    The first adult-use marijuana sales in New York will take place December 29—at the symbolic time of 4:20 pm, officials said.

    Adults 21 and older will be able to make cannabis purchases at the Manhattan storefront run by nonprofit organization Housing Works, which works to address AIDS and homelessness issues.

    The governor and regulators confirmed the location and open date earlier in December, touting the administration’s fulfilled promise to launch the recreational market in 2022—albeit with only a few days to spare and on a limited scale. On December 29, officials held a press conference in anticipation of the first sales just hours away.




    A total of 36 organizations have so far received Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary License, which were approved by the Cannabis Control Board in November. The administration has frequently emphasized the importance to establishing a regulated industry that puts equity front and center.

    That said, questions are already being raised about potential federal ramifications related to having nonprofits sell adult-use cannabis, with at least one lawyer arguing in a recent op-ed that it could jeopardize their federal 501(c)(3) status that makes them tax-exempt.

    Earlier in December, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) separately unveiled a marijuana business and product verification tool, with plans to post a QR code on licensed cannabis retailers and a universal symbol label for authorized cannabis products.

    Officials also recently selected 10 teams of firms to build out about 150 turn-key storefront facilities for social equity marijuana retailers to operate out of, once the market officially launches.

    Most of the newly licensed business will be run by justice-involved people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, while others will be operated by nonprofit organizations that have a history of helping people re-enter society after incarceration.

    In November, Hochul signed a bill aimed at expanding the state’s hemp market by promoting collaborative partnerships to identify more opportunities to utilize the crop and its derivatives for packaging, construction and other purposes.

    Rhode Island’s first recreational cannabis sales started at the beginning of December. Connecticut’s first adult-use shops are expected to open in January 2023.



    Photograph of Housing Works dispensary interior courtesy of Kastalia Medrano

    This story was originally published by Marijuana Moment, which tracks the politics and policy of cannabis and drugs. Follow Marijuana Moment on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for its newsletter.


    • Kyle is Marijuana Moment‘s Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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