Housing Works Cannabis Co, a Non-Profit Supporting Formerly Incarcerated New Yorkers, Makes First Cannabis Sale Today in Manhattan to NYS OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander
Cannabis Supply Chain Started by the Seeding Opportunity Initiative is Now Complete
New Yorkers Can Now Purchase Legal, Safer Cannabis
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the first sales of legal, regulated adult-use cannabis in New York State history. The first sale occurred at Housing Works Cannabis Co, a dispensary owned by Housing Works, the nation’s largest minority-controlled HIV/AIDS service organization and largest community-based HIV/AIDS service organization. The first purchase today was made by Chris Alexander, Executive Director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, a former advocate who spent years fighting for, and crafting, the bill that legalized cannabis in the Empire State. Housing Works, based in New York City, operates a range of direct and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, the homeless, formerly incarcerated, and justice-involved individuals. It also operates a network of charitable retail storefronts.
“The first legal adult-use cannabis sales mark a historic milestone in New York’s cannabis industry,” Governor Hochul said. “Today is only the beginning, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to solidify New York as a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”
The first adult-use retail dispensary, Housing Works Cannabis Co, which is located at 750 Broadway just north of Astor Place in Manhattan, will be open seven days a week, with the first public sales beginning today at 4:20 p.m. Regular hours thereafter will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will adjust in the coming weeks. More dispensaries are expected to follow shortly after the Cannabis Control Board issued the first 36 adult-use retail licenses on November 21, 2022.
As the first Conditional Adult-Use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) licensee in the state to open its location for business, today’s sales serve as both the official opening of New York’s legal cannabis market and the start of a new stream of tax revenue that will be invested in communities across the state to support public schools, addiction services, mental health services, housing, and other community-based programs. It will also support the development of programs to build equity throughout the cannabis supply chain.
Cannabis Control Board Chairwoman Tremaine Wright said, “Today is truly a historic day in the history of New York State. For years we fought to make sure New York not only legalized cannabis but did so in a way that ensures this cannabis market is driven and led by social equity. I am proud to say, with non-profit Housing Works making today’s first cannabis retail sale, we are well on our way to achieve that goal and fulfill our commitment to all New Yorkers. I cannot thank Governor Kathy Hochul, the rest of the Cannabis Control Board, or the staff of the Office of Cannabis Management enough for their ongoing work to achieve these goals”
Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management said, “It is a privilege and an honor to be here today, as we said we would earlier this year, to make history with the first ever legal retail sale of cannabis in New York State. This is a significant part of the battle to end cannabis prohibition that we can say has finally been won. Thank you Governor Hochul for your unwavering support in bringing the vision of New York’s Cannabis law to life and thank you to all our farmers and CAURD licensees for believing in that vision and working with our agency to build what will be the most equitable cannabis market in the nation.”
State Senator Liz Krueger said, “I am gratified to see the start of the adult retail cannabis sales, and that Housing Works has opened the first retail store. Their decades of work with marginalized communities make them a perfect partner in the effort to ensure that New York’s Cannabis market provides meaningful opportunities to those most impacted by the failed cannabis criminalization policies of the past. New Yorkers now have access to a safe sustainable cannabis market rooted in a commitment to social equity.”
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “I am so pleased to see the first legal sales of cannabis in New York occur today by a non-profit that’s been dedicated to helping improve people’s lives for decades. Today, as laid out in the Cannabis Law, we begin collecting revenue that will be reinvested in communities all around the state that were devastated by unequal enforcement of drug laws and mass incarceration.”
Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, said, “For us, this dispensary is an opportunity to provide employment opportunities to people who have experienced the harms of cannabis criminalization. We’re humbled to be able to provide on-going training to help people advance into cannabis as a career in addition to educating our community on cannabis as the market continues to evolve. We’re also looking forward to reinvesting profits to further Housing Works’ mission of providing lifesaving services for tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need.”
Today’s historic event marks a critical milestone in the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, completing the supply chain which was designed to set New York on a path to fulfilling the goals of New York’s Cannabis Law by building an adult-use cannabis industry that works to offset the harms resulting from the disproportionate impact of cannabis prohibition. Announced by Governor Hochul in March, the Initiative has provided for the licensing of 280 family farmers to grow the first adult-use cannabis in New York State. These tested, safer cannabis products will be sold by the first licensed adult-use dispensaries in New York, which are either owned by successful business operators, a close family member, who has a cannabis conviction (justice involved); or non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals who have been harmed by the unequal enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
To qualify, non-profits such as Housing Works also needed to have at least one justice-involved board member and must create vocational opportunities for those with a marijuana conviction. Housing Works has served justice-involved New Yorkers since its inception in 1990 through direct services and advocacy initiatives, providing critical services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Today, Housing Works’ Justice Initiative, tailors the non-profit’s services to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals, including those with cannabis convictions.
Profits from sales at Housing Works Cannabis Co will be reinvested in the non-profit’s services. Founded in 1990 to address the dual crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, Housing Works, a self-sustaining nonprofit, provides job opportunities, legal advocacy and comprehensive housing and health services funded. With a focus on compassion and dispelling stigmas, Housing Works endeavors to move the cannabis industry forward by supporting the needs of their community through an equity-driven and harm reduction approach.
Spanning 4,400 square feet, the iconic building where the dispensary will be, 1 Astor Place, was completed in 1883. Housing Works Cannabis Co will welcome patrons with an introductory shopping experience upon opening, with plans to carefully build out an expanded and thoughtfully curated space as cannabis products become more available. Learn more at hwcannabis.co.
To date, the New York State Cannabis Control Board has approved 36 Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary Licenses, including 28 for qualifying businesses and 8 for non-profits. Earlier this month, the Office of Cannabis Management released guidance to support retail businesses in starting their operations with delivery service to help jumpstart sales.