Looks Like New York Marijuana Dispensaries Will Open Soon — Here’s Why Some Industry Owners Aren’t Stoked


New York State is edging closer and closer to a functioning cannabis legal market. According to new intel, dispensary applications may be approved within two weeks, fulfilling the organization’s wish to have dispensaries operating by the end of the year.

The news was shared on Twitter by Ashley Southall, a reporter for The New York Times. While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, responsible parties believe New York will soon be moving forward with cannabis.

“New York’s cannabis regulators may approve the state’s first licenses to operate adult-use cannabis dispensaries on Nov. 21, when the state control board meets,” reads Southall’s tweet, followed by, “Axel Bernabe, the chief of staff for the Office of Cannabis Management, says his agency has scored applications and will recommend approval for applicants who represent the top of the class.”

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Marijuana regulators in New York have long mentioned the end of the year as the time when legal dispensaries would be up and running. This marks the first time when they provide a clear timeline and a date as to when this decision would be made.

Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty Images

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Despite the positive news, cannabis businesses from other states are intimidated by the prospect of opening dispensaries in New York, known for its thriving black market (now referred to as a “grey” market by the cannabis industry). All across the state, there have been marijuana stores operating since 2021, when the drug was legalized.

And that’s not great news for business owners like Nidhi Lucky Handa, the owner of California-based cannabis company Leune, which is expanding into other states. “How do you explain this to the consumer? It’s not just one shady thing in an alley,” Handa told Bloomberg. “It’s everywhere.”

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Bloomberg says that for Handa, “it’s frustrating to see the state repeating the same mistakes as California, where even bailouts and tax breaks have failed to help the legal market avoid competition from illicit weed.”

New York hoped to be one of the first states to prioritize people who’d been impacted by the war on drugs. The first licenses handed out by the state would provide these communities with the chance to be the first to get involved in the industry, allowing small businesses to have a leg up. To get all of this done, applicants had to submit the proper documents, a process that has taken months to vet and that has allowed the black market to thrive.

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