New York Governor Visits State’s First Legal Marijuana Retailer Outside Manhattan—But Doesn’t Buy Anything
Published February 23, 2023
By Ben Adlin
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New York’s governor visited one of the state’s first legal marijuana stores on Wednesday but left without making a purchase.
“Not today,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) told reporters who asked if she planned to buy any cannabis before the visit. “But I’m gonna drop by. I want them to be successful.” Hochul posted a photo and video of her visit to the Just Breathe pot shop in Binghamton to social media, saying she was “proud that New York is building the nation’s most equitable and inclusive cannabis industry.”
The governor recently suggested in an interview that she would open to trying cannabis for the first time, but that will have to wait for another day.
“Despite going to school in the ’70s, it’s nothing I ever partook in,” Hochul told WAMC podcast host Alan Chartock last week, “but I’m not done living yet. So you never know.”
While sales of legal marijuana began in New York in December, few shops have opened so far. Just Breathe is just one of four adult-use dispensaries that are now operational, and it’s the first outside of New York City.
At the same time, unlicensed marijuana retail storefronts have cropped up across the state, particularly in New York City.
“I want people to know that there are other shops that pop up that are not selling legal products,” Hochul said. “There’s a big difference in terms of safety and quality.”
Licensed businesses also support investments in social equity, the governor added.
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham, who joined Hochul on the visit, said on social media that he “touted the store’s economic impact as we work to revitalize our downtown.”
The state Office of Cannabis Management, meanwhile, posted that “2023 is the year of achieving the New York Dream, and every new adult-use cannabis dispensary helps bring that dream closer to reality.”
OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander was the first person in New York to make a purchase from a state-licensed store.
While it’s common for elected officials to visit some of the first marijuana retailers that open in a state after legalization, it’s still rare for them to leave with products in hand.
“Time will tell,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said when asked in 2021 whether people can “expect to see the governor smoking a joint” after legalization.
As legal sales in that state began last month, however, Lamont said that it’s been “many, many years” since he last had marijuana.
In Illinois, however, which launched legal sales in 2020, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) visited a dispensary on the first day and bought clementine-flavored gummies. It’s believed to be the first time a lieutenant governor has publicly purchased marijuana from a state-legal shop.
Back in 2014, when legal sales began in Washington State, then-Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes posed for photos with two 2-gram bags of cannabis flower. He said at the time that one bag was for “posterity” and the other was for “personal enjoyment when it’s appropriate.”
The event was celebratory but ultimately also embarrassing. Later that week, Holmes publicly apologized after bringing the unopened marijuana to his office, which technically violated Seattle’s “drug-free workplace” rules. A statement from a spokesperson said Holmes “never intended to use [the marijuana he bought] anytime soon.”