Bongs Away: “Gas Face” and “Sour Diesel” Puff Up NY’s Legal Weed Sales to About $150M

Hundreds of new legal adult-use weed shops are expected to receive licenses in the new year, according to the Office of Cannabis Management. This would add to the 41 legal recreational retail shops, including eight in Manhattan, that are now operating. Before issuing a year-end report containing the sales figures, the OCM noted that “Sour Diesel” and “Gas Face” are two of the most popular weed strains in NY.

| 05 Jan 2024 | 04:10

The nascent legal adult-use weed market in New York State is estimated to net retail sales of only around $150 million in 2023, leading to a mere $16.3 million in tax revenue (the OCM said that NYS’s tally through Dec. 9 was $137 million, but is expected to reach $150 million once year-end data is released.)

The industry’s retail rollout in NYS has been a little slower than other states, including those that legalized the substance for recreational use around the same time as New York. New Jersey netted $328 million in retail cannabis sales between April and December of 2022 alone.

However, given the granting of hundreds of new licenses, those figures could be poised to grow exponentially in 2024. This is all according to the Office of Cannabis Management, which issued its annual round-up of the industry shortly before the end of 2023.

“New York Cannabis has momentum heading into 2024 and we’ll keep working to make this market grow,” said OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander. ”We have a lot of work to do, and we have much to be proud of; now that the core market architecture is in place, my team at OCM is ready to scale and help this industry thrive across New York State,” he added.

Legal weed retailers are already showcasing hundreds of pot strains, which can be found throughout 41 legal dispensaries that opened in NYS this year. Eight licensed retailers are currently operating in Manhattan, out of a total of 15 in four of the city’s five boroughs. Thus far, Staten Island (a.k.a Richmond County) has none.

There is “incredible genetic diversity in the market,” said John Kagia, the director of policy for the agency. He cited top-selling strains including “‘Gas Face‘, ‘Blueberry Muffin’, and of course New York’s most famous home-grown strain ‘Sour Diesel’.”

According to Kagia, non-smokable products such as cannabis-infused apple cider and gummies only add to that diversity.

Legalized shops are still far outnumbered by the unlicensed smoke shops that adorn the city. Most city officials say there are about 1,500 illegal shops throughout the five boroughs, although some claim that the real number is much higher.

State measures intended to shut down unlicensed competitors have proliferated. Politicians ranging from Governor Kathy Hochul to members of NYC’s City Council paired a licensing push with new enforcement measures this past fall, and the OCM’s annual report includes some statistics on that end as well. There were 369 inspections of “illicit operations” by the OCM, which reportedly resulted in 11,600 pounds of product seized. That’s a total of $56 million worth of product in street value.

The OCM received 4,234 applications for retail dispensary licenses in 2023. 463 conditional licenses were issued.

The Upper East Side will open its first licensed dispensary, The Herbal Care, on Jan. 4. It will be located at 1412 Lexington.