For those who celebrate 4/20 on Saturday, check out Exit 31 Exotic, Utica's first official marijuana dispensary. Here's our exclusive look on the inside.

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Exit 31 Exotic Opens to Massive Crowd

Townsquare Media Utica
Townsquare Media Utica

It's been a long time coming for the city of Utica. Since 2022, after New York State legalized the recreational consumption of cannabis, the city had been patiently waiting for a local and legal dispensary to open up shop.

On Tuesday, February 20, the day finally arrived. Throngs of people lined up on Genesee Street to be among the first to step foot inside the new store.

Read More: Utica's First NY State Licensed Marijuana Dispensary Is Here

The day of the grand opening, Exit 31 Exotic's General Manager Dylan Bellinger told WIBX in an exclusive interview that he's excited to finally put an end to the long journey to getting the store out of legal limbo.

Our owner started this journey in 2022 and through lawsuits and court battles we've made it through and are finally here. Everything comes from New York State, tested in New York State and sold in New York State.

Exit 31 Exotic held its official ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, which was attended by multiple members of the public, press, and local politics.

Check out the exclusive images below.

A Look Inside Exit 31 Exotic, Utica's First Marijuana Dispensary

Townsquare Utica was on scene for the grand opening of Exit 31 Exotic, Utica's first officially licensed pot shop. The store is located at 255 Genesee Street in Downtown Utica.

Gallery Credit: Megan

Exit 31 Exotic is Hiring!

If you are interested in becoming a "Budtender," you can now apply online. Applicants must be 21 years of age.

We are looking to employ a knowledgeable and experienced Budtender to assist customers in selecting suitable cannabis products. The responsibilities of the Budtender include greeting and welcoming customers, informing the manager of customer complaints and operational issues, and sharing firsthand experiences of cannabis products to address customer concerns. You should also be able to answer customers’ questions regarding the different strains of cannabis, their uses, and methods of consumption.

Get more information on Exit 31 Exotic on their website.

Taking $$$ away from Dealers

While some may be upset that a store is selling legal weed on Genesee, local authorities say decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis takes money away from those selling it on the streets.

Authorities have continued to warn residents of the dangers of buying weed or any illicit substance on the street, especially due to the rise of fentanyl poisoning. The area has seen a spike in overdoses, some of which were fatal.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said in a 2023 press release regarding the troubling issue;

The drug-risk environment is rapidly changing with the increasing combination of fentanyl with cocaine and methamphetamine being the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Oneida County so far this year. This is not only an increased risk for people who chronically use prescription or illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl, but can in just one instance, take the life of a person that is opioid naive and unwittingly exposed to fentanyl in cocaine, methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana or counterfeit pills.

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