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New York City ends the year strong as it prepares to kick off legal marijuana sales ahead of the new year

Housing Works, a New York City-based nonprofit that operates a chain of thrift stores, will start sales at a 4,400-square-foot Manhattan dispensary at 1 Astor Place, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday . All proceeds will be donated to the non-profit. The charity, which provides services to formerly incarcerated people and those living with HIV or AIDS, is one of three dozen groups and individuals awarded the state’s first retail license on last month.

“Their decades of work with marginalized communities make them a perfect partner in the effort to ensure that the New York cannabis market offers meaningful opportunities to those who have been most impacted by failed cannabis criminalization policies of the past,” he said. Senator Liz Krueger in a statement.

The launch represents more than what may be the world’s second-largest legal marijuana market outside California, but a stab at getting regulations right where other states have failed. New York has taken a new approach which aims to include African Americans – disproportionately arrested for marijuana in the past – in the legal industry. He also pledges to separate suppliers from resellers in a so-called two-tier system, in order to try to create many small “mom and pop” businesses.

Retail licenses have been given to people who have a cannabis conviction and organizations that provide services to people who have been harmed by previous drug law enforcement. There are plans to leave those licensees make the delivery by bike and scooter. New York also licensed 280 farmers to grow the first adult-use cannabis in the state.

A rising tide of illicit sellers have opened shop windows to make inroads with customers who don’t know the difference between their cheaper products, but sometimes contaminated products – and weed licensed and tested for contaminants. The state passed legislation in 2019 to decriminalize marijuana and has since eased restrictions on the purchase and use of cannabis. However, it took months to formulate regulations and grant licenses, leading to the proliferation of illegal storefronts that have popped up across the state.

Now, regulators and law enforcement agencies are trying to curb the $2 billion market in illegal sales by providing support to licensed sellers. The measures so far include a verification tool that will be posted in the authorized sellers window and a universal symbol on each product to show that it meets the standards set by the state.

“We look forward to taking the lead as a role model of social equity for the American cannabis industry, especially with our hiring practices and continued support of individuals and communities disproportionately affected by the unjust war on drugs,” he said. said Sasha Nutgent, store manager of Housing Works Cannabis Co., in a statement.