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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Capital Region Welcomes Cannabis Stores in 2023: A Year in Review


EDITOR’S NOTE:⁤ As 2023 draws to‌ a close, we’re looking back at a variety of the year’s defining⁤ stories in our region.

SCHENECTADY — Two years after adult-use cannabis was legalized ⁢in New York, the Capital Region’s first dispensary opened in March, attracting both customers and controversy during its first year in operation.

Upstate‍ Canna Co. opened on ⁣upper Union Street in the spring and immediately attracted lines‍ down the block, and the ⁤constant queues rarely flagged as the summer arrived.

Local​ Impact

The ⁤customer base of residents 21 years of age and older eager⁤ to buy legal cannabis locally proved a boon ​to the shop, while also producing some anxiety for local businesses near​ the 1613 Union‍ St. Some shops even left the area as 2023 wore on.

Upstate Canna Co. owner Don Andrews said on Friday ⁣that the shop’s ⁤first year in operation⁢ has surpassed his initial expectations.

“It’s been a huge success for us,” he said.

A⁣ number of local storefronts moved from⁤ the upper Union Street ⁢business district in​ the wake of the dispensary’s arrival, including Ferri ⁤Formals and Bridal, B.⁣ Inspired Home and Motor Oil Coffee. They either shuttered or announced plans to relocate within the city.

City ‍Council Response

In response to business⁢ and resident complaints about the lines of Upstate Canna Co. snaking⁢ down Union Street, the Schenectady City Council began to explore zoning restrictions for future potential cannabis dispensary locations in the ⁢city.

The ⁤City Council continues to explore an overlay zoning proposal​ that ⁢would restrict dispensaries to limited‌ commercial and industrial zones.

While any potential ‌zoning changes would not affect Upstate Canna Co., Andrews said⁣ he believes that future dispensaries in the city should have freedom to choose their locations.

Future Expansion

The Schenectady Planning Commission tabled ‌a proposal in November that⁢ would convert a former bank building along Eastern Parkway ⁢into ⁤the city’s second cannabis dispensary.

Amsterdam Cannabis opened earlier this month, ⁢becoming that city’s first legal cannabis dispensary.

New York concludes 2023 with at least 37 licensed cannabis dispensaries in operation, with​ Capital District Wellness in Albany and ⁣420 Bliss in Brunswick both opening ‌in the Capital Region⁣ in ⁢December.

Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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  1. Capital Region embracing cannabis stores is long overdue; the economic benefits and social progress cannot be ignored. #AboutTime


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