New York’s second adult cannabis dispensary is expected to open next week

New York’s second adult-use cannabis dispensary is slated to open next week, the governor’s office announced Jan. 19.

Smacked LLC, owned and operated by Roland Conner, an entrepreneur previously criminalized by cannabis prohibition, opens January 24 in Manhattan.

Business becomes Housing Works Cannabis Co. as one of two licensed adult-use cannabis retailers in New York.

RELATED: Inside Housing Works Cannabis Co.’s journey to launch New York’s first adult-use sales: The Starting Line

The state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved the first 36 adult conditional retail distribution (CAURD) licenses in November; Housing Works was one of eight nonprofit organizations to be licensed, while Conner was one of 28 qualified individuals to be licensed.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a “Seeding Opportunity Initiative” in March 2022 to prioritize those most impacted by the War on Drugs in the adult cannabis licensing process. Part of the plan involved issuing the first CAURD licenses to individuals with cannabis-related convictions.

“This dispensary is the latest example of our efforts to build the fairest and most inclusive cannabis industry in the country,” Hochul said in a public statement. “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.”

Regulators will ultimately issue a total of up to 175 CAURD licenses to up to 150 individuals and 25 non-profit organizations.

Smacked will be soft opening next week through February 20th, functioning as a short-term pop-up until the store can finally be built and reopened in a more permanent location.

“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, in a public statement. “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.”

Prior to receiving his CAURD license, Conner owned and operated real estate management businesses in New York City for 15 years. He currently manages a temporary shelter in the Bronx that shelters about two dozen men.

“I am thrilled to be a part of history as the first person to open a legal cannabis dispensary in New York City,” Conner said in a public statement. “Given my cannabis experience, I never imagined opening a business like this. I am grateful for the opportunity to open a business with my son and wife by my side and build generational wealth through collaboration here in New York.

“But this isn’t just about me and my family,” Conner continued. “This is about everyone who has been harmed by the draconian drug laws of the past. New York’s commitment to righting these wrongs through the law is inspiring. I am proof of that commitment because I am standing here today.”

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