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Gov. Kathy Hochul Honors New York’s 100th Adult-Use Retail Store Opening

In an announcement last week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state of New York reached a significant milestone: the grand opening of the state’s 100th Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) brick-and-mortar store. 

Big Gas is located in the village of New Paltz, located near Poughkeepsie. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and a handful of state leaders joined Big Gas owners, Kareem Haynesworth and Zymia Lewis for the grand opening of the store for public sales. “Big Gas is proud to be the first licensed cannabis dispensary in the City of New Paltz,” Big Gas Owners Zymia Lewis and Kareem Haynsworth said. “We are here with the support of the New York State Cannabis Investment Fund, who led us to this great location. This is beyond our wildest dreams.”

“We are pleased to be a host community in NYS’s Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary program,” said Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Roger. “This initiative has allowed the state to 1) invest in a private fund to support individuals impacted by the inequitable enforcement of cannabis law and 2) protect public safety with NYS-sourced, regulated, and tested cannabis.”

Hochul applauded this historic milestone for New York’s cannabis industry.

“New York State continues to make progress on standing up a safe and legal cannabis industry for business owners, farmers and residents across the state,” Governor Hochul said. “Today marks a historic milestone in establishing a thriving and equitable industry in our state with the 100th brick-and-mortar store opening.”

New York officials licensed 110 adult-use cannabis retailers including storefronts and temporary delivery-only (TDO) locations across the state, with more anticipated to open soon. It’s a mix of CAURD licensees with storefronts, CAURD licensees providing delivery services, and adult-use dispensaries co-located with existing medical dispensaries. 

New York industry is taking off, reflected by the rapidly growing number of retailers and sales, with total sales exceeding $237 million, $77 million of which was generated in the first two and a half months of 2024. It’s all the signs of a thriving market. The rollout of New York’s cannabis program, however, was hammered by delays caused by lawsuits and the prevalence of illegal cannabis retailers. One such delay was a lawsuit led by Leafly that challenged New York’s ban on third party advertisers for cannabis businesses.

New York places emphasis on social equity measures to ensure that the state’s industry includes communities impacted the most by the criminalization of cannabis.

Despite setbacks, state leaders have been optimistic. Within its first year of operation, New York achieved and surpassed the Social and Economic Equity (SEE) goal laid out in the adult-use law with 60% of licenses given to social and economic equity applicants. Forty percent of social equity licenses are minority-owned businesses and 40% are women-owned businesses, respectively.

The governor’s announcement stated that this also almost doubled the percentage of majority minority-owned cannabis retailers nationwide. As of April 2024, 37% of New York’s adult-use retailers are majority minority-owned as only 19% are majority minority-owned nationwide. 

In addition, 11% of New York’s adult-use retailers were majority Black-owned, while nationally, that number is at just 2%. Approximately 50% of New York’s open dispensaries are minority- and/or women-owned businesses.

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “We are incredibly proud of our licensees across New York State who have worked diligently to cross this threshold. Today’s celebration at Big Gas belongs not only to the team who opened their doors to business to eager customers today, but to every single licensee who is building this market from seed to sale. It echoes our commitment to catalyzing growth, fostering diversity, and championing equity within the cannabis sector. This milestone embodies our tireless endeavors to reshape the industry landscape and underscores our resolve to push the boundaries of progress. Supported by the New York Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund, we take pride in our progress and pledge to persist in our pursuit of inclusivity and advancement of New York’s Cannabis Market.”

“We take great pride in being able to support individuals who have been affected by unjust enforcement of cannabis laws and help them thrive in this emerging industry,” said Social Equity Impact Ventures LLC General Principal of the Fund’s General Partner Lavetta Willis. “Access levels the playing field. We are thrilled for Zymia Lewis and Kareem Haynesworth and wish them great success. We express our heartfelt gratitude to Governor Hochul for leading the way and paving the path to a socially equitable sector that promotes inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.”

Hundreds more retail operations dot the state as licensed businesses compete with the black market.

The post Gov. Kathy Hochul Honors New York’s 100th Adult-Use Retail Store Opening appeared first on High Times.

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