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Watch Out, Las Vegas: New York Is Jockeying Into Place for Cannatourism Dollars

One city council candidate aims to make the west side of Manhattan its own version of Amsterdam.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With New York’s newly passed legalized marijuana use law, the time is ripe for entrepreneurs to build their empires. One city council candidate thinks weed could be the key to attracting locals as well as tourists to neighborhoods like the West Village, Hell’s Kitchen, and SoHo. And he’s taking his cues from Amsterdam.

Naeem Jaffer | Getty Images

"With cannabis coming to New York, I think this can be really huge — especially for new businesses and vacant storefronts with the arrival of cannabis operators here in the city," Phelan Dante Fitzpatrick, running for City Council District 3 in Lower Manhattan, told Patch.

Related: Will Cannabis Tourism Lead the Way to Economic Recovery?

Building a cannabis-based platform

Fitzpatrick, who said he had to furlough dozens of employees from his own small businesses in March 2020, is looking for ways to help the local economy bounce back from the lows of the coronavirus pandemic. His plans with marijuana include “dispensary tours, ‘puff and paint’ classes, bud and breakfasts, spa-like retreats, cannabis crawls, social lounges, and supper clubs.” He also wants to ensure racial and social equity in licensing, and help create jobs for community residents.

"Finally, marijuana legalization in New York has puff-puff-passed. After decades of treating this natural plant as if it posed the same dangers as heroin, we can now embrace its medicinal and recreational benefits," Fitzpatrick wrote in a news release about his cannabis plan. "If we implement the new marijuana laws the right way, they can be powerful tools for equity and economic recovery."

To detractors, the candidate says look at other states like California and Colorado, which have seen a lot of success with cannabis-related businesses. And that most importantly: Regulating weed is no different than alcohol, and it often causes far less issues.

Related: With Consumption Lounge Bill Passed, Las Vegas Poised to Lead on Cannatourism

Cannatourism on the rise

Other states with newly legalized recreational use laws are dreaming big, as well, especially Las Vegas. On-site consumption lounges are next on the agenda for the state, which can lend a big hand is tax revenue dollars generated by the cannabis industry.

Even if Fitzpatrick’s platform helps him get elected, a lot of this can’t happen for quite some time. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in April 2021 making weed legal in the state of New York, but many changes on the business level, especially when it comes to licensing, won’t happen for at least nine to 12 months or longer. So look out 2022.