A New Dawn for Cannabis in New York: From Criminalized to Commercialized


In the heart of the Big Apple, a cultural and political shift is underway. The once stigmatized cannabis plant is now on the cusp of being embraced as a legitimate and lucrative industry.

The Green Wave: A Shift in Political and Public Opinion

Prominent figures from various sectors are lending their voices to the cause. Cynthia Nixon, former gubernatorial candidate, and Governor Cuomo have both voiced their support for legalization. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer and former House Speaker John Boehner, once ardent opponents, have joined the chorus calling for an end to prohibition.


This shift in sentiment is not confined to the political sphere. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 67% of Americans now favor legalization, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade.

The Rise of the Cannabis Industry in NYC

The cannabis industry in New York City is no longer relegated to the shadows. Upscale head shops and medical marijuana dispensaries, reminiscent of Apple stores, are popping up across the city. Firms based in New York, particularly in tech and private equity, are making significant investments in the burgeoning industry.


Entrepreneurs are flocking to industry meetups, drawn by the allure of a new frontier. Anthony Melchior, owner of Green Health LLC, and Deanna Brooks, a Buffalo-based small business owner, are among those who have been granted licenses to operate dispensaries on the Upper East Side.

Melchior plans to open a luxury brand cannabis store, while Brooks, a ‘justice involved applicant’, will transform an ice cream shop into a dispensary. These newcomers will join the solitary legal store currently operating in the area.

Hurdles on the Path to Legalization


Despite the growing momentum, challenges remain. Tensions are mounting between the Office of Cannabis Management and Governor Kathy Hochul over the slow rollout of licenses, which has allowed an illicit market to thrive. Hochul has expressed her dissatisfaction and suggested granting local law enforcement new powers to shut down unlicensed businesses.

Jonpaul Pezzo, owner and operator of NYC Bud, a retail cannabis dispensary in Long Island City, shares his insights on entering the NY cannabis industry. With a year of experience in the cannabis space and over 25 years as a consumer, Pezzo advises those looking to enter the industry to exercise patience due to the red tape and bureaucracy involved.

“It’s going to be a gold rush initially,” Pezzo predicts, “but there will be a market adjustment with store closures and people leaving the industry.”


As New York stands on the precipice of legalization, the journey towards a regulated and profitable cannabis industry continues. The stakes are high, but so is the potential for growth and transformation.

In the words of Pezzo, “NYC Bud is open to serving customers, friends, and family in NYC.” This sentiment encapsulates the spirit of the new cannabis industry in New York – one that is welcoming, inclusive, and eager to contribute to the city’s vibrant economy.

As of 2024-02-12 12:52:11.384774, the countdown to legalization in New York has begun. The future of cannabis in the Empire State is no longer hazy; it’s looking decidedly green.


 Explore the transformation of cannabis in NYC, from stigma to a thriving industry. Discover the challenges and opportunities of this growing market.  Read More