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Legal Cannabis in NYC

Legal Cannabis in NYC

Aug 09 2023

What's the difference between Gotham and an illegal shop?

With the legalization of cannabis gaining momentum across the United States, the landscape of cannabis access is undergoing a transformation. New York, a state that recently legalized recreational cannabis, now faces the distinction between legal cannabis dispensaries and illegal cannabis stores, often colloquially called “Weed Bodegas”. Regulatory agencies estimate that there are over 1,500 illegal cannabis stores in New York. Understanding the differences between the two is crucial for consumers and communities alike. Gotham’s founder, Joanne Wilson, recently appeared on New York 1 to discuss this in-depth and inspired us to explain the differences on our blog.

Regulation and Licensing

Legal Cannabis Dispensaries: Legal cannabis dispensaries in New York operate under a well-defined regulatory framework established by the state. These dispensaries are licensed, regulated, and monitored by state authorities. They are required to follow strict guidelines, which include quality control measures, secure supply chains, and adherence to responsible sales practices. Obtaining a license to run a legal dispensary involves a thorough application process, background checks, and compliance with zoning regulations.

Illegal Cannabis Stores: On the flip side, illegal cannabis stores operate outside the bounds of the law. They do not possess the necessary licenses and approvals from state authorities. These stores often lack transparency, quality control, and accountability. Their operations can contribute to the proliferation of unregulated and potentially unsafe products in the market.

Product Safety and Quality

Legal Cannabis Dispensaries: Legal dispensaries are required to adhere to rigorous quality standards. They source their products from licensed cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors. The products available in legal dispensaries are subject to testing for potency, contaminants, and other safety parameters. This ensures that consumers have access to products that meet the highest standards of safety and quality.

Illegal Cannabis Stores: Illegal stores might not prioritize the safety and quality of their products. Since they operate in the shadows, they often bypass testing and quality control measures. This can put consumers at risk, as products from illegal sources may contain harmful substances or incorrect potency levels. Products are often not stored properly when shipped, causing quality to suffer and even become dangerous.

Taxation and Revenue

Legal Cannabis Dispensaries: One of the significant advantages of legal dispensaries is their contribution to the state's revenue through taxation. Legal cannabis transactions are subject to various taxes, including sales tax and excise tax. This revenue can be channeled into public services, education, and community development.

Illegal Cannabis Stores: Illegal stores do not contribute to the state's revenue stream. In fact, their operations can hinder the growth of a regulated cannabis market and limit the potential economic benefits for communities.

Community Impact

Legal Cannabis Dispensaries: Legal dispensaries often prioritize responsible business practices and community engagement. They have the potential to create jobs, promote education about responsible consumption, and support local economies. Moreover, legal dispensaries can help reduce the criminalization of cannabis-related offenses. New York also prioritized giving licenses to sell legal cannabis to teams that were invested in non-profit work with a focus on social and economic equity; Gotham is partnered with STRIVE, whose vision is to ensure that everyone can achieve upward mobility and financial empowerment for themselves and their families through the power of a good career.

Illegal Cannabis Stores: Illegal stores can have negative implications for communities. They may attract criminal activity and contribute to an underground market that bypasses necessary regulations. Additionally, their products may lack transparency about potency, ingredients, and sourcing, putting consumers at risk.

As New York's cannabis landscape evolves, it's crucial to recognize the stark differences between legal cannabis dispensaries and illegal cannabis stores. Opting for legal, regulated options ensures product safety, contributes to state revenue, and promotes community well-being. Consumers have a role to play in supporting the legal cannabis market, as it brings not only economic benefits but also a safer, more transparent, and responsible cannabis experience for all.