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New York City's first recreational marijuana dispensary set to open next week in Manhattan

NYC's first recreational marijuana dispensary set to open next week
NYC's first recreational marijuana dispensary set to open next week 02:03

NEW YORK -- The Big Apple will be getting its first recreational marijuana dispensary at the end of the month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

History will be made in just about a week. The building in Manhattan will house the state's first legal pot dispensary. It'll be run by Housing Works, a nonprofit that helps people with HIV/AIDS.

"We have served communities impacted by cannabis criminalization from day one. This feels like a continuation of our mission," said Elizabeth Koke, creative director of Housing Works.

Housing Works says all proceeds from the store's sales will go towards furthering its mission. The state's Office of Cannabis Management says the tax dollars will help better the community.

"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.

READ MOREDue to legal challenge, recreational marijuana sales in Brooklyn, Westchester and elsewhere hit snag  

This is also a chance for the city to crack down on illegal weed sellers.

"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.

Just a five-minute walk up from the Housing Works dispensary on Broadway is the site of another proposed dispensary, run by The Doe Fund, which has also helped those struggling with substance abuse. Housing Works responded.

READ MORERecreational marijuana sales in Connecticut begin January 2023

The state's seeding opportunity initiative prioritizes those who've had a justice-involved cannabis conviction and nonprofits helping those who've been harmed by cannabis prohibition inequities to run dispensaries.

"What can I do? Thank God. What else can I say? Thank God," said Kodjo Tossabi of Gold of Harlem.

There is another possible dispensary location across from the Apollo Theater. The 125th Street bid made a petition saying no to this, adding it'll increase loitering, panhandling, and gang rivalries. However, Tossabi, who works next door, disagrees. He was arrested outside the store 10 years ago for weed possession.

"There's gonna be more eyes. People are gonna wonder what's going on in there, why people coming in there. It's gonna help business," Tossabi said.

One New Yorkers said he is skeptical of where the money is going.

"I like their sentiment, but it never does. No matter what, you're dealing with the people with the money in control of whatever. Rich people are gonna get richer from it and people are gonna suffer," said Aric Grooms of the Upper West Side.

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