Upstate New York's First Rec Cannabis Shop Opens This Week, Officials Step Up Crackdown On Illicit Shops

Upstate New Yorkers will get their first recreational cannabis store this Friday, Feb. 10, announced Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday. The shop is opening in the college town of Binghamton.

Hochul said the opening of Just Breathe at 75 Court Street continues to "expand the nation's most equitable and inclusive cannabis industry here in New York." 

Just Breather, the third so far to open in NY, will be owned and run as part of a collaboration between a local entrepreneur, Damien Cornwell and the Non-Profit Broome County Urban League.

"New York remains committed to supporting independent business dispensary owners, New York farmers who poured their heart into their harvest, and every adult who wants to enjoy legally purchased cannabis in and from the Empire State," Hochul said.

Meanwhile, the slow drip of store openings is proof of the delays that have plagued New York's cannabis program from the beginning.

So far, only two retail shops in NYC have kicked off legal recreational sales in the entire state - Housing Works and Smacked - both of which opened in the past two months.

Illicit smoke shops have sprouted up in 20 months since former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed recreational cannabis sales into law.

How Officials Plan To Tackle Illicit Sales

Currently, there are over thousand stores selling marijuana products illegally in New York City. To tackle the issue of illegal and unlicensed cannabis dispensaries throughout NYC, Mayor Eric Adams and Manhattan DA Alvin L. Bragg announced a partnership with local law enforcement and elected officials to curb the illicit market.

Bragg said during the Tuesday news conference that they would pursue landlords who are allowing hundreds of illicit shops to operate and that his office has already sent notices to more than 400 smoke shops, warning them of potential evictions, reported Associated Press.

Adams highlighted the importance of cannabis legalization in terms of equity and justice, adding that "we're not going to take two steps back by letting illegal smoke shops take over this emerging market."

Why Is New York Silent On Its Cannabis Sales Figures?

While NY officials have been loud on the issue of illicit shops, they're "conspicuously silent" when it comes to cannabis sales, Green Market Report's Debra Borchardt pointed out, unlike other states where recreational markets launched recently, including Missouri, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The state has attributed its slow rollout to making sure social equity applicants get their fair share of the pie. Data from NY Cannabis Management's report suggest that in 2022 the state collected zero taxes. In 2023, the state expects to pull down $56 million in taxes for adult-use cannabis sales in fiscal 2023.

Borchardt said that It will be "difficult to know if the state will hit its goals," given that "no one wants to discuss sales figures."

Photo: Courtesy of Budding on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisNewsRegulationsRetail SalesMarketsAlvin L. BraggAndrew CuomoBinghamton - Just BreatheDebra BorchardtEric AdamsillicitKathy HochulmarijuanaNew York Cannabisrecreationa sales
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