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What to expect when New York's first recreational cannabis dispensary opens Thursday in Manhattan

A sneak peek inside NY's first legal recreational marijuana dispensary
A sneak peek inside NY's first legal recreational marijuana dispensary 01:46

NEW YORK -- Adults will soon legally be able to buy recreational marijuana in New York. The state's first cannabis dispensary will open its doors on Thursday afternoon in Manhattan.

CBS2 spoke with the nonprofit set to make the first sale.

Wednesday marked the low before the high at Housing Works Cannabis Company in the East Village. Starting at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, adults age 21 and over will legally be able to buy recreational marijuana.

"Everything from wrapped to pre-wrapped ... edibles, just a full array at different price points," Housing Works CEO Charles King said. "Tomorrow, we expect a very long line down the block, but after that we'll be able to serve people pretty expeditiously."

Watch King's full interview

New York's first recreational cannabis dispensary set to open tomorrow 05:51

King joined CBS News New York ahead of the grand opening. Housing Works is known for serving homeless New Yorkers and people living with HIV and AIDS. He said the nonprofit had been working on getting a license to sell recreational pot for the last three years.

"We serve overwhelmingly a population that has been criminalized by the war on drugs and we felt it was appropriate for us to be able to not only sell cannabis, but use that as an opportunity to hire and employ people who've been just as involved due to use and possession of cannabis," King said.

"Everything is grown in New York and produced in New York," Housing Works creative director Elizabeth Coke said.

READ MORERetail dispensaries across New York will soon be allowed to deliver marijuana

So far, the New York State Cannabis Control Board has approved 36 adult retail licenses. Housing Works will be the very first to open its doors, an exciting prospect for many in the area.

"I'm a chronic pain sufferer and I know that edibles, theoretically, help with chronic pain, so if it's something that could give me some relief, I'm happy to try it," one person said.

"I think New York has needed it for a long time, and we're just catching up," another person said.

"I'm here for it. I'm surprised that it's the first," another person said.

Watch Andrea Grymes' report

New York's 1st recreational cannabis dispensary opens Thursday 02:29

"It's something that has been part of our culture in our city for a long time, and now we get to use it responsibly and not be secretive about it," Coke said.

The state says the new year will bring several new dispensaries.

"I can already tell you and confirm that a couple other licensees are working to open their dispensaries in January, nonprofits and individual licensees and qualified businesses," said Trivette Knowles, press officer for the New York Office of Cannabis Management.

Don't be confused if you already see smoke shops advertising weed.

"What we're seeing is an influx of, a lot of times, people from outside the state or people trying to expose public confusion and open up these storefronts, and it really is a matter of short-term gain because they're at threat of preventing themselves from obtaining a future license," Knowles said.

READ MOREMayor Eric Adams may face uphill battle in crackdown on unlicensed stores selling marijuana

Critics, meanwhile, have worried legalizing pot will bring an increase in crime and traffic accidents, and a decrease in quality of life. King argues regulating marijuana will help control all the illegal spots that have opened.

"Currently, cannabis sellers aren't paying taxes. We'll be paying taxes to the city, the state and the federal government. So legalizing cannabis and bringing in a regulated market is a way to improve the system overall for everyone," King said.

Proceeds will go directly back into the nonprofit. CLICK HERE for more information about Housing Works.

So what's next in this budding industry? Cannabis delivery has now been approved, so the state expects to start issuing licenses for weed delivery in the next month.

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