New York’s first legal cannabis store opens to huge crowds and happy customers

The first legal cannabis sales in New York took place Thursday afternoon at Housing Works, the state’s first adult-use dispensary, located in downtown Manhattan. Key lawmakers Chris Alexander and Tremaine Wright conducted ceremonial first transactions behind closed doors before the doors opened to the public.

At 4:20 p.m., Housing Works’ new retail pharmacy at 750 Broadway, one block west of Astor Place in Greenwich Village, welcomed its first official customers for legal cannabis sales. Shoppers lined up in front of the pharmacy before it opened. Housing Works is one of eight nonprofit organizations that received Day One approval to open doors. The nonprofit organization was the only licensed store willing to welcome customers on New York’s official day.

Ken W., a transplant artist from Texas to New York, was the first customer in line at the Housing Works at noon. He didn’t plan to be part of the story, but he enjoyed his legal Gorilla Glue and posed for the cameras anyway. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)

Shortly after the first legal weed buyer, Ken W., made the historic transaction, the floodgates were open for New Yorkers 21 and older to legally buy cannabis. The sale lasted until about 7:45 p.m

35 other retailers are also licensed to launch New York’s legal weed market. But they’re limited to delivery while the state helps them set up brick-and-mortar stores. Here’s how and where to buy legal weed in New York on day one and beyond.

Read on to find out how the first day of legal weed in New York unfolded.

10 a.m. in Manhattan: Housing Works press conference

Housing Works was packed with press hoping to witness the first legal cannabis sale in New York. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)

Just before the doors opened, Leafly spoke to Housing Works owners and organizers, along with regulators and loyal customers who queued hours in advance. Key lawmakers Chris Alexander and Tremaine Wright were the first to ceremoniously buy legal cannabis behind closed doors.

Governor celebrates new weed order

Though Governor Kathy Hochul was not in attendance, she tweeted, “This is a historic milestone for New York’s burgeoning cannabis industry and I look forward to solidifying our state as the national model for building an equitable and inclusive industry.”

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander (Jon Bain / Leafly)

OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander was almost in tears and thanked his team profusely. “I’m honored, humbled and appreciate the adults in this room. I see you all; we’ve been doing that for a long time. Many rooms have been created [that] listened to me But I just appreciate your dedication, your unwavering, unwavering pursuit of justice. I say often [and] I will say it again, justice is not a thing, it is the thing.”

11 a.m.: New York’s cannabis regulators make the first legal cannabis purchase

(Meg Schmidt / Leafly)Tremaine Wright, Chair of the New York Cannabis Board (left) and Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the Cannabis Bureau (right). (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)

Given how much they have worked to bring the market online for adult use, it is only fair that regulators such as OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander and Tremaine Wright, Chair of the New York Cannabis Control Board, had the first chance of a legal purchase. They both took some edibles with them from the ceremonial purchase, and Alexander grabbed an eighth to roll up (just papers, he says).

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Old pioneers share their joy

Old New York breeders King Aswad and Jasmine Burems were thrilled to witness the historic moment of New York’s first legal sales. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)

King Aswad and Jasmine Burems, founders of long-established cultivation brand Claudine Farms, were delighted when New York finally took the first step towards welcoming legal adult cannabis.

“It’s a village,” Burems says of the new industry. “Everyone has their role. We all have a part to play, so we’re ready to serve our community and established operators as a way to break into the legal industry. This is the work we are interested in.”

4 p.m.: New York loves legal weed

Pot pandemonium was the scene in New York on the first day of legal sale. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)

While Ken W.’s first official customer purchase didn’t happen until after 4 p.m., the line for Housing Works’ first sale for adults began to build around noon. Ken, a former resident of Houston, Texas, moved to New York City earlier this year and told Leafly he uses cannabis for his anxiety. Ken smoked a bowl of Green Crack to pass the time in line and celebrated the occasion by toking up an eighth of Gorilla Glue, New York’s Favorite Strain of 2022, according to Leafly data.

While no one decided to camp overnight to stay ahead of the game, the line at Housing Works snaked around the block by 3 p.m., with an eclectic mix of eager customers. Some mainstays of cannabis culture, including Fab 5 Freddy and Shiest Bubz, also made appearances.

“It was a really intense experience,” Ken W. told Leafly before taking off with his historic loot.

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