BUFFALO, N.Y. —  New York's cannabis economy has been in the works for years. A recent report from realestatewitch.com cites one Western New York city as one of the top spots to visit or live when it comes to taking in the state-legal plant.

Like many of the recreational dispensaries opening across the Empire State, Public Flower Adult-Use Dispensary in Buffalo is just getting started.

"Last year, there was no legal license dispensary that opened up in the city of Buffalo, or for Western New York for that matter," said CEO Sheldon Anderson. "It has been quite a roller coaster."

So you might be surprised to hear that recent articles have been touting the Queen City as a top-five marijuana destination. 

"There's a lot more opportunities for people to experiment with cannabis in a legal and a safe manner," said Anderson.

The safety and regulation certainly factors in, but the key points for these lists?

  • Interest and internet searches
  • Price per ounce of premium and mid-tier strains
  • Dispensaries per capita

Buffalo handily beat the only bigger city in the state in most areas, but Anderson and company would know that.

"When we travel and we go on vacations, we always look at what the cannabis scene is,” he said. “Try different dispensaries and ultimately talk to other entrepreneurs in the space and kind of learn from them."

Over the last two years they've been getting everything in order. For the last couple of months, sales have been rock solid — and Anderson is far from surprised. 

"The same way that you have microbreweries, the micro businesses allow for seed to sale cultivation," said Anderson. "So they're going to be able to say, ‘we have a strain in Buffalo that no one else has possibly in the world or the state or the country.’ I think Buffalo should lean into cannabis as a tenant of tourism as well going forward — that ‘green tourism.’"

That doesn't just open the world up for this budding business, but also local vendors who are looking to expand a statewide footprint while still shaking old thoughts about "green recreation."

"For those people who are as educated and knowledgeable about it, that's why you have budtenders and you have people like me, who are here to educate you on the different brands and the different strains and turbines and whatever fits you best, because there's a lot of different customers out there," said Kali Foss, a brand ambassador for Buffalo-local Trucann LLC.

Foss travels regularly from their headquarters in Buffalo to different corners and not only helps with information, but sees how these other new businesses are making an impact on the national stage. 

"So it's a matter of, they all talk. I will say that they all talk. I've been in a dispensary all the way in Potsdam and northern New York," she said. "This is they talk to a dispensary down in Syracuse, New York. So they all talk and they utilize each other for their business, you know, standards and regulations as well. It's actually great to see and I can't wait to see how much more the industry grows."

And not to bury the seeds, or lede, but something that's not even brushed on in these new publications? 

"New York state is leading the nation in equity. I mean, other states that have legalized cannabis, there are not operators that are minorities or women. They represent less than 1% of the licensed dispensary owners," said Anderson. "So the fact that we're a minority- and a women-owned team in the city of Buffalo and we have a licensed dispensary, I think against all of the hurdles, I think it's definitely worth it."

On the report, Buffalo ranks number four while New York City is down the list quite a bit at number 24. The hope for the industry across the Thruway is that other cities will continue to work together and expand the state market, maybe even get some upstate cities on the list in years to come.