Slow Legal Cannabis Rollout Among NYC Metro Area Creates Boom in “Gray” Market

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With the legalization of cannabis, the NYC metro area has experienced a slow rollout of their programs which has created a “gray” market for storefronts and businesses looking to sell cannabis without going through the regulatory process.

Legal, recreational cannabis has been rising and canvasing its way across the US. Delaware recently became the 22nd state to legalize recreational cannabis. With increasing support, more states will seek out their own legalization reform about cannabis.

The metro Tri-state area which includes New York (NY), New Jersey (NJ), and Connecticut (CT), have been experiencing a slow rollout of their legal cannabis landscape. This snail-like pace has led to a “gray” market of businesses and storefronts selling cannabis without dealing with the regulatory process. In New York City (NYC), the mayor’s office estimated that in their area, there are 1,400 illegal businesses selling cannabis without a license (1).


“Those legitimate businesses face stiff competition from shops that are not following the rules,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during a news conference (1). “It is time for the operation of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries to end.”

Due to the “War on Drugs” propaganda campaign, state officials have been trying to fix past wrongs. The metro area has worked on this by adding in social equity components into their recreational cannabis programs. Such as, having a stronger focus on granting licenses to applicants who have prior cannabis-related criminal convictions.

“Every cannabis company should be focusing on hiring people who have had previous cannabis charges and people who have come from communities that have been impacted by the war on cannabis,” said social equity applicant Tahir Johnson, who’s about to open Simply Pure Trenton, in Ewing Township, NJ (1,2).

As the popularity for recreational cannabis grows, it has the premise to become very profitable. The national cannabis market is estimated to make $71 billion in sales by the year 2030, according to data from research firm, New Frontier (1). 10% of that estimation could come from the New York state market.