Binghamton is now home to New York state’s first legal cannabis dispensary outside of New York City.

On Friday, many traveled to Binghamton to be the first to purchase from Just Breathe — a new local business that sells marijuana flowers, edibles and other cannabis products grown in New York state, according to Spectrum News. Damien Cornwell, one of the owners, has previously owned a CBD store and has now partnered with the Broome County Urban League to open the full cannabis dispensary.

Cornwell explained that cities like Binghamton have been in an economic decline, and that business opportunities such as the dispensary are the “shot in the arm” that these communities need to grow.

“We are seeing hundreds of people come into the store, and it’s only logical that these people are shopping at other shops or going to eat at other places,” Cornwell said. “I get calls all day long from people out of town that are on route to visit the dispensary, and I think that’s really good for the community. I think it makes for a great impact and is really needed. I’m delighted, not only because I’m the owner but because I live in Binghamton.”

Jared Kraham, the Mayor of Binghamton, spoke about the steps that led to the final approval of the cannabis dispensary downtown over the past few months. He explained that when he took office in January of 2022, the City of Binghamton was working quickly to update their zoning code to allow for cannabis-related businesses. Last June, they were one of the first municipalities to release a zoning map and get it approved through city council, which allowed for Just Breathe to jumpstart the process of applying and receiving approval for opening.

Kraham outlined the potential economic impacts that the dispensary will have on the community in Binghamton.

“I think when major social changes happen, you always want to be on the cutting edge because you want to be known for innovation,” Kraham said. “I’m interested in seeing the tax revenue. I stopped by the store yesterday, and they are getting people from across New York state. They are getting people from out of state. And they are choosing to spend their money in Binghamton. They are spending money at our restaurants, our taverns, our small businesses — they are filling up their tank of gas which leads to sales tax revenue.”

Kraham said cannabis legalization is important because before becoming regulated, the buying and selling of it was a distrustful process. The products that people use will now be examined and tested, and consumers will have more awareness of the inner workings of the businesses that are distributing them. At illegal stores, people have less of an awareness of what they are buying which, as Kraham emphasized, can be dangerous.

Cornwell added that the dispensary offers an opportunity for college students to remain in Binghamton after graduation by increasing the city’s appeal.

“I think the Just Breathe dispensary is a step in the right direction to make this a more attractive place to retain the talent that the college has,” Cornwell said. “That’s really what we should be aiming to do. That’s how the town will reignite itself in the future.”

According to Spectrum News, three dispensaries are in the process of opening in the coming months in the Capital Region, with one meant to be located in Schenectady and two others in Albany.

Malcolm Clemmer, a senior majoring in computer engineering, expressed concern about the success of the business.

“Gray market shops are going to be important in determining [Just Breathe’s] success — students are always going to go with the cheaper options,” Clemmer said.

Michael Esquivel, a senior majoring in computer engineering, shared his support for the opening of the cannabis dispensary.

“With a legal dispensary, I would assume the prices they are charging would match the quality of cannabis they are selling,” Esquivel said. “I know of a few friends that are already excited that it has opened up. Now that it’s an actual legal dispensary, more people will be comfortable with the use of it downtown and it will gain a lot more business. There are a lot of students I have met looking for better places to purchase these products.”