The governor of New York announced on Thursday that the state’s second adult-use marijuana retailer—which will also be the first to be owned by a person previously criminalized over cannabis—will open next week.
The new dispensary, which like the first currently operating one will also be located in Manhattan, is scheduled to open for a soft launch on Tuesday. Smacked LLC will be owned and operated by Roland Conner, who met the state’s eligibility criteria for a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license as a justice-involved individual.
“This dispensary is the latest example of our efforts to build the most equitable and inclusive cannabis industry in the nation,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a press release. “As we continue to work toward righting wrongs of the past, I look forward to new dispensaries—owned by those most impacted by the over policing of cannabis prohibition—opening soon.”
The state’s first recreational marijuana retailer opened late last month. It’s being run by the nonprofit organization Housing Works, which focuses on addressing AIDS and homelessness issues.
Smacked, for its part, will operate on a “pop-up” basis through February 20. The intent of the soft launch is to give the business training opportunity and additional resources through the state’s Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund ahead of a formal opening.
“I am so excited to become a part of history as the first individual to open a legal cannabis dispensary in New York City,” Conner said. “Given my experience with cannabis, I never could have imagined that I would be opening a store like this.”
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to open a business with my son and wife at my side and build generational wealth, working together, right here in New York. But this is not just about me and my family. This is about everyone who was harmed by the draconian drug laws of the past,” he said. “New York’s commitment to righting those wrongs through the law is inspiring. I am proof of that commitment because I’m standing here today.”
A total of 36 organizations have so far received Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary License (CAURD), which were approved by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) in November. The administration has frequently emphasized the importance to establishing a regulated industry that puts equity front and center.
“After years of work from advocates, it is very gratifying to see the adult retail cannabis market finally begin to take shape, and to do so with a focus on equity and repairing the damage of the failed war on drugs,” Sen. Liz Krueger (D), who championed legalization in the state legislature, said. “New Yorkers now have access to a safe, sustainable, and growing cannabis market rooted in a commitment to social equity. I wish Mr. Conner luck in his business and look forward to seeing many more openings in the near future.”
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), who also played a key role in advancing the reform, said that she’s “proud to see New York State continuing to follow through on that commitment with the opening of this Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary owned by a social and economic equity licensee and supported by the New York Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund.”
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“Dispensaries with ownership like this one exemplify our commitment to building a nation-leading model for establishing an equitable cannabis industry that works to offset the harms caused by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” CCB Chair Tremaine Wright said. “We couldn’t have reached today without the steadfast support of Governor Hochul and the Legislature and I’m excited to see the industry continuing to advance and grow in line with the goals of our state’s cannabis law.”
Separately, New Jersey and New York regulators recently took each other to task over which state approached their adult-use marijuana market rollout better. And the governor of Connecticut subsequently weighed in on the conversation as his state started sales this month, saying that New York’s limited launch “seemed crazy to me.”
Last month, Hochul unveiled a marijuana business and product verification tool, with plans to post a QR code on licensed cannabis retailers and a universal symbol label for authorized cannabis products.
Officials also recently selected 10 teams of firms to build out about 150 turn-key storefront facilities for social equity marijuana retailers to operate out of once the market officially launches.
Most of the newly licensed business will be run by justice-involved people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, while others will be operated by nonprofit organizations that have a history of helping people reenter society after having been incarcerated.
Meanwhile, Hochul signed a bill in late November aimed at expanding the state’s hemp market by promoting collaborative partnerships to identify more opportunities to utilize the crop and its derivatives for packaging, construction and other purposes.
Also, New York lawmakers recently pre-filed a bill for 2023 to legalize certain psychedelics like psilocybin and ibogaine for adults 21 and older.
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