First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary In Empire State Opens In NYC

In the United States, a total of 21 states, along with Washington D.C., allow for the recreational use of marijuana. The effectiveness and safety of cannabis continue to be under discussion.

Key takeaways:
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    New York City opened the first approved recreational marijuana dispensary in New York State on Thursday.
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    Marijuana is the most popular federally illegal drug in the United States, according to the CDC.
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    It is important to be wary of false-advertised marijuana products and to not over-consume.

On Thursday, the first recreational marijuana dispensary in New York State opened its doors. The New York City hot spot is destined for success in the nation’s largest city, but some concerns over cannabis exist.

Many unregulated marijuana dispensaries containing harmful chemicals currently exist in New York state.

The new dispensary in the Big Apple is operated by a nonprofit called Housing Works. The group’s mission is to advocate for the ongoing homelessness and HIV/AIDS crises. All proceeds from Housing Works Cannabis Co. support the efforts at Housing Works.

Charles King, the CEO of Housing Works, highlights the new opening is more than just a dispensary for cannabis consumers.

“For us, this dispensary is an opportunity to provide employment opportunities to people who have experienced the harms of cannabis criminalization,” King said. “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."

Doors for the new dispensary opened at 4:20 p.m., a number with significance in cannabis culture. Housing Works Cannabis Co. offers a variety of different products, including weed cigarettes (joints), vapes, and edible forms of cannabis.

The new dispensary is currently cash-only with a limited menu but plans to add more cannabis products in the near future. Housing Works Cannabis Co. is developing an online ordering and delivery system, according to their website.

More dispensaries regulated by the state are set to pop up after the Cannabis Control Board issued the first 36 adult-use retail licenses on November 21, 2022. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the new opening in a Thursday press release.

"The first legal adult-use cannabis sales mark a historic milestone in New York's cannabis industry," Gov. 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."

Before the arrival of Housing Works Cannabis Co., many falsely advertised THC products were able to roam free in New York. A study published found more than 2,000 hospitalizations and 60 deaths, primarily due to illicit additives in THC vape products.

Many self-advertised cannabis products contained E. coli, pesticides, heavy metals, and salmonella.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana or cannabis has many other nicknames, including weed, pot, flower, and others, depending on the user. Cannabis has many different cannabinoids, including the most commonly known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC gives more of the euphoric high, while CDB does not.

Ways to consume marijuana include:

  • Joints (look similar to a cigarette)
  • Blunts (cigar wrapping)
  • Vapes (electronic devices)
  • Edibles (cannabis-infused food or drinks)

Dabbing is inhaling concentrated cannabis oil, usually containing higher potencies of THC. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says to be weary of harmful chemicals included in some high-concentrated forms of THC.

Marijuana in the U.S.

Marijuana is the most commonly consumed federally illegal drug. At least 48.2 million Americans have used the drug once, according to the CDC.

Although marijuana is legal recreationally in 21 states plus the nation’s capital, federally, it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Some local city and county governments have taken action to decriminalize marijuana possession in states where the drug is not legal for recreational use.

Many proponents of marijuana highlight its ability to help provide relief for various conditions, including pain and anxiety. However, data about marijuana's efficiency is insufficient to say it is superior to other remedies.

A recent Healthnews article explored a study comparing the effects of marijuana to normal tobacco cigarettes on the lungs. Ultimately, evidence found those who smoked cigarettes along with marijuana contained more complications.

The CDC mentions possible health risks associated with marijuana. Thirty percent of marijuana users acquire marijuana use disorder, signaling a sign of reliance on the drug. When using marijuana, it is important to take moderation into consideration.

Other risks include:

  • Stops brain development in minor users.
  • Fast heartbeat, leading to increased risks of strokes and other heart diseases.
  • May impair the ability to drive, making reaction time slower.
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