Welcome to Honeysuckle’s New York Retail Dispensary Round-Up! As the Empire State’s cannabis industry evolves, we’re bringing you updates with information on new store openings, events, and other developments that the public needs to know.
2023 has been a pivotal if extremely turbulent year for the cannabis industry, both at home and on national to international scales. New York definitely rounded out December with a bang, opening 12 new dispensaries nearly back to back. More are on the way, according to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). As we head into 2024, the landscape is certainly not all rosy, but there’s still plenty to celebrate. Read on for the good and bad ahead of the New Year.
Housing Works Cannabis Co Celebrates First Anniversary
Housing Works Cannabis Co, New York’s first licensed adult-use dispensary, celebrated its one-year anniversary on December 29, 2023. Run by the team from renowned advocacy nonprofit Housing Works, the cannabis retailer opened with a flourish twelve months ago at 750 Broadway. On launch day, crowds were several thousand people deep, circling the block multiple times, and notable figures from State Senator Liz Krueger and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera to hip hop legends Shiest Bubz and Fab 5 Freddy were in attendance. We caught up with the Housing Works Cannabis Co team to get their reflections on an amazing first year in business (check it out here).
All proceeds at Housing Works Cannabis Co benefit the many social services programs for housing, healthcare, job training and more that Housing Works offers to people living with AIDS, chronic illness, and other conditions of need. The dispensary had a lowkey tribute to its “special day,” but sources tell us a grander event is coming in early 2024 when the store’s full buildout is completed.
Cannabis Control Board Hits A Snag In Registered Organization Vote
Also on December 29th, the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held a rare emergency meeting to determine whether two Registered Organizations (ROs), Fiorello Pharmaceuticals and Citiva, should be allowed to start dispensing adult-use cannabis immediately. In an equally rare circumstance, the proposed measure failed to pass - which may be the first-ever instance of a suggested resolution not carrying the vote on its initial round.
On one hand, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander pleaded the case in favor of approving the ROs, stating that the resolution would immediately give New York two more adult-use dispensaries in operation. Board Member Dr. Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins strongly argued against passing the measure at this time, noting with frustration that such a decision did not seem like cause for an emergency session. In a heated exchange with her fellow board members and Alexander, Gilbert Jenkins emphasized that taking the step to approve the ROs now would “benefit only a small number of people instead of [helping] everybody.” She also questioned why the OCM would insist on the CCB meeting to discuss this matter above other issues they could be working on, like a possible extension of the Cannabis Growers Showcase (CGS) program, which officially ends on December 31st.
Reportedly, the reason behind the emergency meeting was to ensure that the ROs buy remaining biomass from the state’s licensed cultivators, who remain struggling after two years with dangerously few places to sell their product. ROs expanding from medical cannabis to the adult-use market are also supposed to dedicate at least 50 percent of their shelf space to items from local cultivators and processors. However, as Gilbert Jenkins pointed out, there are currently no existing contracts between ROs and small businesses to ensure that this happens. Even Alexander, who insisted the new dispensaries would make more money than the CGS pop-ups, could only answer to the issue of contracts by saying that any agreements between ROs and cultivators would have been illegal before today.
With two “yea” votes, two “abstain” votes, and a recusal, the resolution couldn’t pass this time. We’ll see what happens in the New Year, as the CCB works on its bylaws and procedures. In the meantime, if you want to support extending or renewing the CGS program, check out this petition by High Exposure NY or contact your state senator.
Another Lawsuit Threatens New York’s Cannabis Rollout
Though most people were preparing for the holidays in recent weeks, an infamous entity was working to enjoin New York’s cannabis program yet again. On December 18th, Variscite Four LLC and Variscite Five LLC filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District, claiming that the OCM’s state residency requirements for license applicants are unconstitutional. The suit requests that a new injunction be brought against the OCM and CCB to prevent them from granting any new cannabis licenses until Variscite is included in the “extra priority” pool of applications - defined as retail applicants who already have set locations for their stores.
Sharp-eyed readers may recognize the entity name, as in November 2022, a Michigan-based cannabis operator brought a similar action against the OCM under the business “Variscite One.” Owner Kenneth Gay had argued that the New York residency requirements were unconstitutional and violated the Dormant Commerce Clause that upholds interstate commerce. Though that suit was settled in March 2023, several regions and Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license holders suffered under an injunction for months.
Gay has filed multiple lawsuits in states including California and Washington, all critiquing those jurisdictions’ social equity programs. It’s not yet been confirmed whether he also owns Variscite Four and Variscite Five, although the New York Department of State has verified that all three Variscite businesses have the same registered agent. The latest lawsuits identify the owner of Variscite Four and Five only as a Los Angeles County resident who has a criminal cannabis conviction in California, and owns 51 percent of each entity.
To date, there have been no further developments on the Variscite Four and Variscite Five suit (likely due to the court’s limited hours during the holidays). But the thought of history repeating itself with another injunction on the state’s adult-use program is both bleak and triggering. Keep watching this one.
CONBUD Honors New York Haze History With Legendary Panel And Strain Launch
Now to elevate the conversation, we turn to our friends at CONBUD on 85 Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. On Saturday December 30th, from 4PM to 7PM, the dispensary becomes the Home of the Haze. A panel of some of New York’s most influential cannabis cultivators and historians will help pay tribute to the most definitive NYC strain of them all.
All cannabis connoisseurs know the power of the original New York Haze, the cultivar that shaped generations of weed culture. According to CONBUD founder Coss Marte, the best Haze - and the only truly authentic kind - was sold in Washington Heights for decades. White Boy Kev, founder of La Marina Boys, and his colleague Ivan Ferreira (better known by his Instagram handle @therealpiffhaze) were known as the genuine source of the Big Apple’s most popular strain. Their genetics expertise birthed a world of cannabis that many love, but few can really comprehend.
Now, join Ferreira as he enters the legal market for the first time with his brand Mata, which brings the OG New York Haze to a mass audience. He and his fellow pioneers will share their memories and insights into the history of Haze. The panel, moderated by Coss Marte, will include Feirrera, White Boy Kev, Hudson Cannabis founder Ben Dobson, and hip hop icon Shiest Bubz. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that puts consumers at the heart of the movement.
Manhattan’s Upper East Side Will Gain Its First Dispensary In The Herbal Care
Starting 2024 off with a bang, the Upper East Side will become the THC Side on January 4th when The Herbal Care launches as the neighborhood’s first licensed dispensary. Located at 1412 Lexington Avenue (between 92nd and 93rd Streets), The Herbal Care has the distinction of being the inaugural licensed retailer above 14th Street on Manhattan’s East Side.
Owned by justice-involved applicant Markel Bababekov, a New York native currently living in Queens, The Herbal Care will feature a wide variety of curated locally-grown products and high-end cannabis accessories. Local artists will also have their work showcased within the space. Bababekov states that he wants the store to feel like “a community shop” and that he has personally tested every product he intends to stock.
The OCM will host a press conference on the morning of January 4th to kick off The Herbal Care’s grand opening. What a way to ring in the first week of the New Year!
What Else Should I Know About New York’s Cannabis Retail Dispensaries?
New York State currently has 39 CAURD licensed cannabis dispensaries open and operating. Click here to visit the OCM’s website for specific information about licenses and regulations. Read below for a list of all CAURD retailers now operating. Remember - if a store's not on this list, it's not legal!
If you have CAURD-related news or other dispensary updates you'd like to share, DM us at @honeysucklemagazine on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing Works Cannabis, LLC
750 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
144 Bleecker Street, New York, NY10012
75 Court Street, Binghamton, NY 13901
Union Square Travel Agency
62 E 13th Street, New York, NY10003
William Jane Corporation
119-121 E State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
Good Grades, LLC
162-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11432
Upstate Canna Co
1613 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12309
33 Union Sq. W, New York, NY 10003
Gotham CAURD LLC
3 E 3rd Street, New York, NY 10003
622 Lake Flower Avenue, Suite 7, Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Social Equity CAURD JV LLC***
Richmond Hill, NY
Stage One Cannabis LLC
810C Broadway, Rensselaer, NY 12144
219 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY 13202
Half Island Flavors LLC***
Greenery Spot LLC
246 Main Street, Johnson City, NY 13790
Royal Leaf NY LLC (Statis)
817 E Tremont Avenue, Bronx, NY10460
Strain Stars LLC
1815 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale, NY 11735
Exscape INC (Sacred Bloom)
1308 Vestal Pkwy E, 1st Floor, Set D, Vestal, NY 13850
Dank 716 LLC
501 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203
6055 Transit Road, Depew, NY 14043
EK Green LLC (dba Canterra)***
Tonawanda, NY 14150
76 Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
Air City Cannabis LLC***
Kush Culture Industry LLC (TerpBros)
3610 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, NY 11105
248 West 125th Street, New York, NY 10027
85 Delancey Street, New York, NY 10002
The Highest Peak LLC
25 Market Street, Potsdam, NY 13676
Premier Earth Corp.
1297 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14216
Capital District Cannabis And Wellness, Inc.
997 Central Avenue, Suite 200, Albany, NY 12205
Humble County LLC (420 Bliss)
740 Hoosick Road, Troy, NY 12180
Amsterdam Cannabis, Inc.
1451 State Highway 5S, Amsterdam, NY 12010
900 Jefferson Road, Suite 902, Rochester, NY 14623
7479 US Highway 11, Potsdam, NY 13676
127 South Terrace Ave, Mount Vernon, NY 10550
Cannabis Emporium (Hush)
2460 Williamsbridge Road, Fl 1, Bronx, NY 10469
412 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012
2370 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11223
TJ's Cannabis Corp.
4205 Long Branch Road, Suite 5, Liverpool, NY 13090
Big Gas Dispensary***
Slate Hill, NY