New York Daily News
3rd legal pot shop opens
Joins downtown outlets as illegal sales surge
New York’s third legal weed dispensary opened its doors Monday amid growing concern over the growing influence of illegal marijuana shops across the city.
The shop, named Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store, opened Monday at noon to less fanfare than the city’s first dispensary — but those in attendance still said it was an important moment.
“It’s really significant, to be one of the first dispensaries opening in a new legal market in one of the biggest cities in the world, and to be able to provide safe and reliable products to New Yorkers,” Arana Hankin-Biggers, president of the store, said Monday.
Its name is a nod to “the mindful journeys and getting away without leaving” that cannabis can bring, Hankin-Biggers said.
The city’s third legal cannabis store will be donating just over half of its profits to the Doe Fund, a nonprofit that provides various services for people who have been homeless or incarcerated. It’ll be operated by the Harbour Community.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to advance racial, economic and social justice [and] restore it to communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of drugs,” Elizabeth Lion, vice president of communications for the Doe Fund, said.
The store’s regular hours will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. At 62 E. 13th St., it’s located close to Housing Works Cannabis Co. and Smacked, the two other two legal dispensaries in the city.
For sale in the dispensary are weed flower, prerolled joints, tinctures, concentrates and edibles. Flower, or smokable weed, ranges in price from $44 to $60 per eighth of an once. Edibles go for roughly $12 to $80.
The opening comes as concern is growing about the unlicensed, illegal shops that have flooded the streets of neighborhoods around the city, including Chelsea and the Upper West Side.
Local officials have not been able to fix the problem.
Last week, Mayor Adams and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced a crackdown, threatening illegal weed shops with eviction if they continue to break the law.
Under a decades-old public nuisance policy, building landlords and owners are required to evict commercial tenants engaging in illegal drug sales. If they don’t do the job, the Manhattan DA and the city sheriff’s office plan to step in.
Bragg’s office issued notices to about 400 smoke shops.
In another effort, Adams announced a crackdown by the sheriff’s office and other agencies in December. They seized 600 pounds of weed and issued 500 civil summonses and 66 criminal summonses to dealers illegally selling marijuana.
However, many of the targeted shops have carried on with operations.
According to City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the sheriff’s office seized the entire inventory of a smoke shop on the Upper West Side — but within two weeks the shop was restocked and running.
To sell legally under state law, would-be dispensary owners must first acquire licenses from the state.
All licenses in the state have gone to nonprofits or people who have faced marijuana-related convictions.
This social equity effort makes New York’s budding weed industry stand out from other states’, but has also complicated its rollout.