It’s time to see what New York’s legal market really looks like! The New York Cannabis Retail Association (NYCRA), formerly known as the New York CAURD Coalition, are kicking off the 2024 events season with their first industry party of the year on Saturday, January 20th. Tickets are going fast, so check Eventbrite now to claim your spot!


What Is The New York Cannabis Retail Association's (NYCRA) Industry Party? Food, Music, Networking And More

At The Fine & Raw Chocolate Factory in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, NYCRA members will host a gathering for all cannabis community advocates, entrepreneurs, industry stakeholders, and friends of the evolving legal space. Over 50 of the Empire State’s top brands will be represented at the event, showcasing many facets of the supply chain and ancillary businesses. Guests will be treated to fresh and fly beats from internationally-renowned DJ Cat Ouellette, entertainments of various kinds, and food exquisitely curated by the esteemed Chef For Higher, “Hawaii” Mike and his team.

40 Tons founders (left to right) Corvain Cooper, Loriel Alegrete, and Anthony Alegrete (C) Emily Eizen @emilyeizen

Social Impact Brand 40 Tons Comes To New York's Cannabis Marketplace

Among the event’s highlights, social impact brand 40 Tons will be in Brooklyn to launch its first community effort and entrance into New York’s marketplace through partnerships with CONBUD and HPI Canna, a state-licensed processor. 40 Tons is recognized across the country for its work in providing second chances to people with cannabis convictions, and its efforts to help currently incarcerated citizens. Now, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to support the brand in their own backyard, as sales of their packaged flower and prerolls will boost business for dispensaries across the state. 

Industry Party attendees will have the first chance to network with the 40 Tons team. And on Sunday, January 21st, 2 to 4PM, New Yorkers can visit CONBUD at 85 Delancey Street for a public meet-and-greet with 40 Tons. Both events will also serve as recruitment forums, because 40 Tons is seeking brand ambassadors and account representatives in their new East Coast space. Spread the word that job opportunities abound!

What Is The NYCRA's Mission?

As NYCRA co-founder Jayson Tantalo describes, the occasion marks not only the beginning of a tradition - since it is the second annual industry party given by the organization - but also the merging of interests from across the sector. Tantalo, who owns Flower City Hydroponics with his wife Britni in Rochester, first created the CAURD Coalition with CONBUD founder Coss Marte in late 2022. The group’s mission was then and is now to establish an equitable and inclusive marketplace as New York embraces its legal future. But as the injunction against the state’s Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program took hold and the landscape of cannabis licensing evolved, as well as the Coalition expanding to 250-plus members, the leadership knew they would need to change with the times. In October 2023, they rebranded as the NYCRA, with a full Board of Directors and welcoming all interested parties as members - the more, the merrier, the better for true equity! 

Which New York Brands Are Sponsoring The NYCRA Industry Party?

Honeysuckle is proud to be a media partner for NYCRA’s Industry Party, which includes sponsors StupidDope, NY Cannabis Insider, The Bluntness, Chef For Higher, Cat Ouellette, On The Revel, Asian Cannabis Roundtable, The Heavy Smoke, Cannabis Workforce Initiative, 40 Tons, CONBUD, Ten-Ten, NOWAVE, Seibold Security, Dutchie, Honest Pharm Co, Veterans Choice Creations, Mata, Airo Brands, Ayrloom, Castetter Cannabis Group, Cannabis Realm of New York, Rove, Cornucopia Growers, Zenco Payments, All In One, Heavy Hitters, TapRoot, Altua, Third Thursday, Surfside, BioTrack, Alleaves, Pure Vibe, Mind Melters, Dagmar Cannabis, Jenny’s, Savage Leaves, Naturae, Jaunty, Rolling Green, TerpBros, Nabis, Cannabis Collective, Jetty Extracts, Honeypot, AlphaRoot, PAX, Prosper Media, The Flower Agency, Nanticoke, Weedmaps, Kaya Push, Integridy Farms, Meyers Security, East Coast Cannabis Insurance, Ravens View Genetics, Flower Power Dispensers, The Dope Connection, Jeffrey Hoffman & Associates PLLC, Vicente, Temeka Group, Serenity, Lobo, Cannabals, Kiva, Eureka, Alchemy Pure, FLAMER, TribeTokes, The Flowery, Angel Underwriters, Zizzle, Forte, Real Life Botanicals, Cure8, 1992 Visuals, Park Jordan, FlowerHouse, and Feel Good. 

NYCRA co-founders Jayson Tantalo and Britni Tantalo at On The Revel's 2023 Revelry Block Party (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Studios / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture @honeymagstudios

We caught up with Jayson Tantalo before the Industry Party started rocking to get the full scoop on the hippest shindig in The City That Never Sleeps. 

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: What are some of the NYCRA’s biggest goals for 2024?

JAYSON TANTALO: This year is going to be very interesting because we’re setting the stage for so much. Our top priority is to change regulations and law; we finally have the ability to be heard in Albany. What does this exactly mean? Well, last year we tried to get respect from the legislators, but our organization wasn’t strong enough to get the support we needed to make changes. 

But this year looks much different. It’s not even the end of the first month of the new year, and I’m proud to say we’re now getting the opportunity to help shape law and change regulations in Albany. Some prime examples of what we’re working on right now at this moment: Codifying CAURD, potency tax reform, and lifting some of the restrictions we have with regard to marketing our cannabis dispensaries. We actually have a lobby day on Tuesday January 23rd; we’re scheduling meetings with [at least] seven to ten senators or their chiefs of staff to pitch our agenda.

There will obviously be some celebration at the Industry Party for CAURD licensees who are finally getting to open stores. But how does NYCRA want to bridge the gaps and connect all cannabis industry stakeholders this year?

As someone who comes from the streets, my philosophy remains the same: Collaboration over competition. In order for this market to be successful, we all need to link up every like-minded individual who brings value to the industry and the community. When we expanded from the platform WhatsApp to our current access portal, we gave direct access from the tip of your fingers to all invested stakeholders. Meaning, if you’re a retailer looking for a cultivator, then all they have to do is go into our cultivator channel. 

Last year on the 20th we had an exclusive members-only event. This event was really successful, but this year we’re calling all industry stakeholders. Not only are we calling for these individuals, we are calling all new applicants who applied for a license to come join us. With over 250 members being licensed now, and having a voice in Albany, we believe we can gain more leverage to create opportunities for change. I can’t say this enough; the power is in the numbers and collaboration over competition is the only opportunity to create real equity in this game. 

This event brings together over 50 of New York’s top cannabis companies. How did you identify these brands, and who are some of the teams you’re most excited to have participating?

Great question! What we have been doing this past year is collaborating with so many individuals who have been working their asses off trying to build their business. What we found was the more energy they put into what they were building, the better the business became. My wife Britni was a judge at the first ever legal competition led by a legacy cat who has been in this game for almost 30 years. We sampled over 100 products, from prerolls that were sun grown to Diamond extracts. I mean, this shit was insane. When New York went legal, the regulations on how you extract to how you can grow, with very little light, [were so restrictive] we didn’t think that we would see anything [worthwhile]. But in reality, we were like, “Holy fuck, this is bomb!” Britni mentioned getting them in on our next event, and from there we went from 0 to 1000. Next thing you know, people were reaching out to us trying to book a booth. 

Please note, just because you don’t see brands that are in [our event’s] top 50, that doesn’t mean we didn’t let them in, it just means they didn’t have the bandwidth to attend as a sponsor. This event isn’t NYCRA judging [who the] “leading brands” are - it’s merely placing them in front of the community to see what New York legal cannabis looks like. More than 80 percent of our sponsors can be found in all the dispensaries across the state. And if they are not found in a dispensary, we’re hoping for dispensary owners to offer them an opportunity to get some shelf space.

Between Chef For Higher’s food and Cat Ouellette’s music, you are truly creating an event steeped in NYC's legacy of cannabis and culture! Was that a conscious thematic choice? What excites you about bringing these influences together?

See, Jaime, I come from a time that is much different than the current generation. I’ve been in this game since I was 14; I’m now 42 and I just move differently. When I analyze things, I look back and see who’s been rocking out with us since day one. Most people find themselves chasing things that solely benefit themselves, but what I like to do is elevate those who have invested into their communities, even if this means their communities were or are still underground. I believe in respect and loyalty and when I look back, I never forget the hands that feed you. 

Hawaii Mike and Cat have always given us and our crew respect and loyalty and this reflects why they were elevated. It’s that simple! When I call upon a favor, without hesitation they have always said, “Whatever you need, I got you.” The streets are the streets and no matter what region of the state you come from, the ones who live by certain principles always connect. Anyone we bring to the front has one way or another helped us get where we are today and I personally will never forget this. New York Legal is our way out and, in some cases, our only way out. This event is a reflection of our hard work and the dedication all of us have put into this game is what excites me. Showing every fucker who doubted us or judged us that we can do anything when it comes to this industry. No matter what, we will not be stopped and having such a large stage at our disposal we will show them! We control our own fate! Not them. The success of this event is a reflection and to do it all in less than a month just shows the support we get from others! 

The NYCRA Industry Party takes place on Saturday, January 20th, 6-11PM at The Fine & Raw Chocolate Factory, 70 Scott Avenue, in Brooklyn. Click here to get your tickets through Eventbrite. For more information about the NYCRA, follow @nycannabisretailassociation on Instagram, or fill out the form linked here to onboard as an NYCRA member.


Written By:

@jaimelubin (IG)

@jaimelubin (Twitter)


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Jayson Tantalo

On The Revel

"Hawaii" Mike Salman

Sam C. Long

Jaime Lubin


Featured image: Jayson Tantalo, co-founder of the New York Cannabis Retail Association (C) NYCRA