Long Island’s first legal recreational cannabis business cut its ribbon and opened its doors last week, marking another milestone in New York’s ever-expanding adult-use marijuana market.
The dispensary, called Strain Stars, opened on Saturday in Farmingdale, New York.
“It was a long way,” Kamaldeep Singh, an owner of the store, told local news station FOX5 New York. “And I’m happy we made it.”
According to the station, “hundreds” of customers lined up amid hot weather for the store’s grand opening.
News 12 Long Island reported that the grand opening “featured a DJ, food trucks and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
New York legalized recreational pot for adults aged 21 and older in the spring of 2021, when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law.
Parts of the measure took effect immediately––most notably, adults were permitted to smoke weed––but the state-regulated market has been slower to take shape.
After Cuomo resigned in August of 2021, Kathy Hochul became the state’s first female governor––and immediately made it a priority to get the adult-use cannabis program up and running.
The first legal adult-use dispensary opened late last year in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, and other retailers have since opened in Manhattan.
But other New York City boroughs, along with certain areas in upstate New York, have had to wait longer for their own legal weed businesses.
That was partly due to an injunction issued by a federal judge that precluded the state from issuing licenses to Brooklyn and western New York, among various areas.
But that injunction was partially lifted in March, clearing the way for the state to issue licenses in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
The first legal cannabis dispensary in the New York City borough of Queens opened that same month. And in addition to the opening of the business on Long Island, the Bronx, another NYC borough, opened its doors last week, too.
“New York is leading the nation in building a new cannabis industry that advances social justice and provides economic opportunity for those who have been harmed by the inequitable enforcement of cannabis laws,” Hochul said last week in a statement on the opening of the two stores. “With these new dispensaries opening in New York, we are providing safer product to New Yorkers, while furthering our ambitious goals for equity in New York’s cannabis laws.”
According to Hochul’s office, the opening of the retailers in the Bronx and on Long Island brought “the total of legal and licensed dispensaries in the State to 19.”
“As we witness the historic openings of The Bronx and Long Island’s first legal dispensaries, we celebrate a significant step towards equitable access to safer cannabis. This momentous occasion not only brings economic opportunities to these communities but also represents our commitment to fostering a responsible and inclusive cannabis industry. We look forward to the positive impact these dispensaries will have on Bronx and Long Island residents, as we continue to prioritize social equity, public health, and safety while expanding the cannabis market throughout New York State,” said Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.
Tremaine Wright, the chairwoman of the New York State Cannabis Control Board, said the openings were a credit to “the leadership of Governor Hochul.”
“These groundbreaking establishments not only provide safe and regulated environments for cannabis access but also serve as a testament to our commitment to fostering inclusive business opportunities. By supporting diverse entrepreneurs and ensuring equitable participation, we are paving the way for a vibrant and representative industry,” Wright said.