The New York State Cannabis Control Board approved its first batch of dispensary licenses Monday — three of which were handed out to Bronx-based businesses — marking another step forward in the Empire State’s effort to legalize recreational marijuana and make it accessible to adult consumers.
Tremaine Wright, the chair of the Cannabis Control Board, said today’s vote to approve the first 36 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses was monumental.
“Not long ago, the idea of New York legalizing cannabis seemed unbelievable,” she said during Monday’s meeting. “Now, not only are we legal, not only have we legalized, but we’re also building a legal adult-use market with an equity-driven approach.”
Only individuals with prior cannabis-related offenses — or who are the family member of someone with one — and who have a record of a successful business or nonprofit were eligible for CUARD licenses.
Nube NYC LLC, Carl M Anderson III and Royal Leaf NY are the first in the Bronx to be approved for statewide marijuana licensure, according to the state Office of Cannibas Management (OCM).
Naiomy Guerrero is the CEO and a co-founder of Nube NYC, a business she runs alongside her brother and father.
“We’re just so excited and grateful to be part of this historic moment, and we’re really looking forward to setting up shop,” she told the Bronx Times on Monday. “We just couldn’t believe it, it’s still kind of setting in.”
Guerrero said she and her family are from the Bronx, and while they don’t have a specific location in the borough for Nube NYC just yet, she’s hopeful that her dispensary will enhance whichever neighborhood they land in.
“What we hope to do is to create a conscious cannabis consumption experience and bring awareness to the plant and the benefits,” she said. “I think in general we also want to get involved and support, in whatever way we can, and make deeper ties with the community.”
Many members of the Cannabis Control Board and members of the public who attended Monday’s meeting heralded the first CAURD licenses as a win not only for the state’s economy, but also as a triumph for social justice.
This past March, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the Seeding Opportunity Initiative — which aimed to equip individuals with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses the opportunity to make the first legal marijuana sales with products by New York farmers.
Christopher Alexander, the executive director of OCM, said one of the defining components of the Seeding Opportunity Initiative moving forward will be identifying communities that are disproportionately impacted by both cannabis-related offenses and bureaucratic red tape. He said the office is trying to give those groups — primarily people of color and women — more of an opportunity to apply and receive licensure in starting their own dispensaries.
“We believe many of their stories will demystify a long-neglected and demonized community that has played a significant role in building New York’s pre-existing cannabis market,” he said. “The data is irrefutable. Nowhere in this country was the enforcement of cannabis prohibition weaponized more methodically against under-resourced communities than right here in New York.”
Part of the Seeding Opportunity Initiative also allows individuals with newly approved CAURD licenses to receive financial support from the Social Equity Cannabis Fund — a pool that allows the state to finance the “leasing and equipping of up to 150 conditional dispensaries in New York to be operated by individuals who have been impacted by the inequitable enforcement of marijuana laws,” according to Hochul’s office. Nonprofits were considered for licensure if they had a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated people, among other requirements.
Before Monday, there were no state-sanctioned dispensaries approved for recreational business in New York state, however there have been illegitimate pop-up marijuana shops around New York City.
OCM Public Affairs press officer Trivette Knowles said Monday that the office is working with local partners and law enforcement to shut down these illicit shops — emphasizing that the goal isn’t to re-criminalize cannabis, but instead have users and suppliers bring their products to the legal market.
The office had received more than 900 applications for CAURD licenses as of Monday and approved the first 36 based on a candidate scoring system. Of the dispensary licenses approved Monday, 28 were granted to qualifying individuals and eight were approved for nonprofit applicants.
Knowles said there isn’t an exact timeline for when the first 36 dispensaries will be fully open for business, and that CAURD licenses will continue to be approved on a rolling basis. According to previous reporting by our affiliate AMNY Metro, OCM will give each licensee 12 months from approval to open their dispensary.
New York legalized recreational marijuana in 2021, the 16th state in the U.S. to do so.
The first dispensary licenses were approved for the following NYC-based individuals and businesses: Nube NYC LLC, Carl M Anderson III, Royal Leaf NY, Gabbys Green LLC, CGG Enterprises Inc., Suzanne M Furboter, Anthony Crapanzano, Smacked LLC, Gabriel Marin, Planet 51 LLC, Florisun LLC, Eastern Holdings and SAMJNY Holdings LLC.
Outside of NYC, approved licenses will go to: Stage One Cannabis LLC, D-Andrews LLC, Essential Flowers, Capital District Cannabis & Wellness Inc., William Durham, Union Chill Cannabis NY LLC, Cured NY, LLC, Brian Stark Enterprises LLC, Albert D Capraro, Strain Stars LLC, Root 13, LLC, Growth Industries NY, LLC, Keep it 100 LLC, Hydo Phonics and Brent L Rogers.
The nonprofits approved are: Housing Works Cannabis, LLC — Housing Works, The Doe Store LLC — Doe Fund, Urban Weeds LLC — Urban Upbound, CWS Holdings I, LLC — Challenge Industries, NYCCABUDS — Center for Community Alternatives, Kush & Kemet LLC — LIFE CAMPS, On Point Cannabis, INC. — Broome County Urban League and GOTHAM CAURD — STRIVE, Inc.
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes