New York’s first recreational marijuana store, owned by a person harmed by the drug war, will open next week, the governor announces

The governor of New York announced Thursday that the state’s second marijuana dealership for adult use will open next week — which will also be the first to be owned by a person previously criminalized for cannabis.

The new dispensary, which will be located in Manhattan like the first one currently in operation, is scheduled to open Tuesday for a soft start. Smacked LLC will be owned and operated by Roland Conner, who has met the state’s eligibility criteria for a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license as a person involved in the justice system.

“This dispensary is the latest example of our efforts to build the fairest and most inclusive cannabis industry in the country,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a press release. “As we continue to work to right the wrongs of the past, I look forward to the opening of new dispensaries owned by those most affected by the over-policing of cannabis prohibition.”

The state’s first recreational marijuana retailer opened late last month. It is operated by the non-profit organization Housing Works, which focuses on tackling AIDS and homelessness.

For its part, Smacked will operate on a “pop-up” basis until February 20th. The intent of the soft start is to provide the company with training opportunities and additional resources through the state’s Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund prior to a formal opening.

“I am thrilled to be a part of history as the first person to open a legal cannabis dispensary in New York City,” said Conner. “Given my experience with cannabis, I never imagined opening a shop like this.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to open a business with my son and wife by my side and through collaboration here in New York to build the wealth of generations. But it’s not just about me and my family. This is about everyone who has been harmed by the draconian drug laws of the past,” he said. “New York’s commitment to righting these wrongs through law is inspiring. I am proof of that commitment because I am standing here today.”

A total of 36 organizations have so far received the Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary License (CAURD), which was approved by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) in November. The government has frequently emphasized the importance of building a regulated industry that puts equity at its core.

“After years of work by advocates, it is very gratifying to see that the retail adult cannabis market is finally taking shape, and it is doing so with a focus on justice and repairing the damage of the failed War on Drugs,” said Sen. Liz Krueger (D ), who campaigned for legalization in the state parliament, said. “New Yorkers now have access to a safe, sustainable and growing cannabis market founded on a commitment to social justice. I wish Mr. Conner the best of luck in his business and look forward to many more vacancies in the near future.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), who also played a key role in driving reform, said she was “proud that New York State continues to honor that commitment with the opening of this conditionally-owned adult retail pharmacy.” a social and economic equity licensee and backed by the New York Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund.”


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“Dispensaries with owners like this exemplify our commitment to building a nation-leading model for building a just cannabis industry that works to reverse the harm caused by disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” said Tremaine Wright, Chair of the CCB. “We could not have reached today without the unwavering support of Governor Hochul and the Legislature, and I am pleased to see the industry continue to progress and grow in alignment with the goals of our state’s cannabis law.”

Separately, regulators from New Jersey and New York recently took each other to task to find out which state has handled adult marijuana marketing better. And the Connecticut governor subsequently chimed in on the conversation as his state began selling this month, saying New York’s limited launch “seemed crazy to me.”

Last month, Hochul unveiled a marijuana business and product verification tool, with plans to release a QR code at licensed cannabis retailers and a universal icon label for authorized cannabis products.

Officials also recently selected 10 company teams to build about 150 turnkey storefronts for social justice marijuana retailers to operate from once the market officially launches.

Most of the newly licensed businesses are run by people involved in the justice system who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, while others are run by nonprofit organizations that have a history of helping people get back into prison after incarceration return to society.

Meanwhile, Hochul signed legislation in late November that aims to expand the state’s hemp market by encouraging collaborative partnerships to identify more opportunities to use the harvest and its derivatives for packaging, construction, and other purposes.

Also, the New York legislature recently pre-tabled a 2023 bill to legalize certain psychedelics, such as psilocybin and ibogaine, for adults 21 and older.

New Jersey Senate Committee approves bills allowing marijuana companies to claim state tax deductions as a partial 280E workaround

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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