New York – Legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana brings many benefits to both the state and those who use it. Increased tax revenue, reduced criminal justice costs, economic development, and improved public health are some of the most important incentives for states that have legalized or are thinking of legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. So far, a total of 21 states have regulated the use of recreational marijuana, and as of recently, New York State is among the states where everyone with a license can sell cannabis, while New York residents can freely consume marijuana for recreational purposes.
The state gave towns the power to decide on their own whether they would legalize marijuana dispensaries and/or on-site consumption lounges. So far, most of the Rochester area towns have decided not to legalize the sale of marijuana, but town leaders can change their previous decision whenever they want, according to the current state law.
Although millions of New York residents have been waiting for this law to go into effect, the state struggled with the process of granting licenses to dispensaries, and currently, not a single store in the state is selling pot. But this is going to change in a few days as the first ever legal recreational marijuana dispensary is opening its doors for customers next week, just before New Year’s Eve.
According to CBS News, the store will open on Thursday in Manhattan near St. Marks Place in the East Village and will be operated by Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that assists people living with HIV/AIDS. The store will be open every day, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Manhattan store is the first spot in the state to get an adult-use retail license.
The bill was approved late last year, but no store has since been opened because the state has struggled to provide licenses to those who applied and want to run a dispensary. The New York State cannabis industry is estimated to be worth more than $4 billion, with the potential to become one of the nation’s largest cannabis markets. State leaders believe that the industry will create thousands of new job positions, directly boost the economy, and also lower crime rates in certain areas like New York City.
“We think the legal cannabis industry is going balance out the illegal, and then our coronation we will zero in on them to make sure that they don’t sprout up all over our city,” Mayor Eric Adams said earlier this month.
In addition, state leaders are confident that tax dollars will help the state invest more in education and other programs that will help the community. States like California already see huge benefits after legalizing recreational marijuana, and New York wants to follow the same path.
“Not just supporting public education, but also supporting drug treatment prevention education and supporting programs like job training, re-entry services, continuing adult education programs,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.