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New York opens first state marijuana dispensary

STORY: "We're prioritizing repairing harm, harm that's been done even by the state's own policies," Chris Alexander, the inaugural executive director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, said at a crowded news conference at the store.

In legalizing marijuana in Sept. 2021, New York lawmakers required that it could only be sold by licensed retailers, and that the first licenses would be awarded to entrepreneurs with prior marijuana-related arrests or convictions, giving them a toe-hold ahead of corporate retailers in the lucrative market.

New York's marijuana sales will be subject to a 13.5% tax, revenue from which will go to schools, public housing, addiction services and mental health services.

Jeffery Medford, the founder of New York Green Coalition, said having a city dispensary meant that they were "officially open for business".

"You're seeing this whole process from beginning to end," she said. "It's just beautiful. It's so exciting."

Marijuana has been fully legalized by 20 other states, but remains illegal under federal law, which can make it difficult for vendors to get access to business loans and other banking services.