Opening of the second legal pharmacy in NYC

New York City is already home to the Empire State’s first and only legal recreational cannabis dispensary and will soon give way to a second.

Gothamist reports that a new marijuana dispensary called “Smacked” will open in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village this month after a local council voted “unanimously” to support the store last Wednesday.

The pharmacy “is scheduled for a ‘soft start’ for media on Wednesday 18 January and will open to the general public later in the week,” it said Gothamist.

Regulators in New York approved 36 recreational marijuana dispensary licenses in November.

These first three dozen licenses were granted as part of the state’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which ensures that “New York’s first legal adult retail dispensaries are operated by those most impacted by cannabis prohibition enforcement, or non-profit organizations their services include support for the ex-prisoners.”

Unveiled last year, the initiative awards the first cannabis retail licenses for the use of cannabis by individuals with a prior cannabis conviction, or a family member of an individual with such a conviction.

But despite approval for these licensees, there is currently only one state-sanctioned recreational cannabis retailer in New York.

This store, located in Manhattan’s East Village and owned by Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that provides services to people living with HIV and AIDS, opened December 29.

“The first legal sale of adult-use cannabis marks a historic milestone in the New York cannabis industry,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement on opening day. “Today is just the beginning and I look forward to continuing our efforts to solidify New York as the national model for the safe, just and inclusive industry we are now building.”

Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright, chair of the state’s Cannabis Control Board, said the opening of the Housing Works-owned store was “truly a historic day in the history of New York State.”

“For years we have fought to ensure that New York not only legalizes cannabis, but does so in a way that ensures this cannabis market is powered and governed by social justice. I’m proud to say that with today’s first retail cannabis sale by the nonprofit Housing Works, we’re well on our way to achieving that goal and fulfilling our commitment to all New Yorkers. I cannot thank Gov. Kathy Hochul, the rest of the Cannabis Control Board, or the staff of the Office of Cannabis Management enough for their continued work to achieve these goals,” Wright said in a statement at the time.

The store’s opening ensured that Hochul, a Democrat, lived up to her promise to get the adult-use cannabis market up and running before the end of 2022 — even though the state fell well short of her target number.

“We expect the first 20 pharmacies to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul said in October. “And then about 20 more every month. So we’re not just going to throw it out like that. It will work and be successful.”

Of the 36 licenses issued by the state, 13 went to companies in New York City’s five boroughs: three in the Bronx, four in Queens, four in Manhattan, and two on Staten Island.

According to NY1, there is a temporary suspension of licenses granted to Brooklyn businesses due to a lawsuit filed by a company challenging the state’s requirement that applicants in New York have a marijuana-related felony must in order to be eligible for a license.