Welcome to Honeysuckle’s New York Retail Dispensary Round-Up! As the Empire State becomes a thriving hub for licensed cannabis dispensaries, we’re bringing you weekly updates with information on new store openings, events, and other developments that the public needs to know.

This week, we’re taking a look at Smacked’s grand reopening in the Village, Housing Works’s achievements in directing millions of dollars back to the community, Gotham’s inaugural reading series (featuring work by Drake), and more.

Roland Conner, owner of Smacked, speaks at the reopening press conference (C) Jaime Lubin / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @jaimelubin

Smacked Becomes First New York Justice-Involved Dispensary To Go From Pop-Up To Full Buildout

On Thursday, July 27th, Smacked LLC welcomed state officials, VIPs, and media outlets to its newly renovated store at 144 Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village. Already a history-maker for being New York’s first Black-owned, justice-involved dispensary, the retailer is accomplishing a major milestone yet again as the debut business of its kind to transform from pop-up to complete buildout.

Owners Roland and Patricia Conner were on hand with their family and staff to celebrate the day, which was capped off by exclusive tours of the site and a press conference. As part of the CAURD program, the Conners worked with the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), and official partnering service providers such as Temeka Group and Dutchie to manifest their vision of a fully designed and functional operation.

“Turnkey” was the word of the day, according to Mike Wilson, founder and President of Temeka Group, who hosted tours throughout the store. Award-winning design firm Temeka Group has built out over 500 dispensaries in legal cannabis markets throughout the nation, and was chosen in 2022 as the buildout company for New York’s CAURD license holders. Wilson explained that every element in Smacked was selected with intention, from the clear signage on the entrance distinguishing the store as a legal business, to colorful, categoric product displays featuring details on safety, to secured passageways for staff members and areas up to all compliance standards. For example, lactation accommodations for staff as required by New York law are here represented by a pristine separate room with privacy partitions.

Another impressive aspect is the POS system powered by technology brand Dutchie to facilitate sales and transactions. Anne Forkutza, Head of Social Impact and Industry Relations, was proud to see the latest tech being implemented for Smacked, such as options for pre-payment that help fill delivery orders.

“It’s super important for [Dutchie] that the CAURD program is successful,” Forkutza stated. “Because their success is our success. A rising tide lifts all boats. In New York, we’re in service to [the entrepreneurs] and it’s incredible. We’re stronger together, and building a historic moment.”

Wilson helped explain why the transition from pop-up to complete buildout matters. “In a typical buildout, we’ll do cases and lighting and overall design. But here, we’ve done that and everything else, down to the microwaves in the break room, the computers they’ll use, the trashcans. With the turnkey model, there’s no requirement for [dispensary owners] to get extra capital to open a store.” He added that the social equity model provided by the CAURD program is different from every other legal market in the country, because in other states “they just sell the paper [the license] and you have to raise the money… [In New York’s model], it’s all yours. You have the keys, you control this. People have put the money up so you can get this off the ground… It’s setting that up for generations.”

That thought was echoed in Roland Conner’s remarks to the crowd, as he thanked the attendees and reminded them that his family and community have been his motivation through the process. “We really want cannabis to work in New York,” he noted with a smile.

“This was the goal; this was the mission,” OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander emphasized during his speech. “So folks can now sit here, they can enjoy this space, and they can know that it’s operated by the people that we intended the program to be operated by.” To those who have been critiquing the state’s slow retail rollout, he addressed a simple response: “We are intentionally building this market.”

Former NBA star turned cannabis entrepreneur Chris Webber, who oversees the New York Social Equity Fund with business partner Lavetta Willis, came out to congratulate Conner on his leadership in the developing industry. “Roland, I’m impressed by you and your heart,” he affirmed, with a vote of confidence that the business is set to run for years and years.

Smacked will officially reopen to the public on August 10th.

Chris Webber, principal of New York's Social Equity Fund, speaks at Smacked (C) Jaime Lubin / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @jaimelubin
Anne Forkutza, Head of Social Impact at Dutchie (left), and Lavetta Willis, General Partner of New York's Social Equity Fund (right) at Smacked's reopening press conference (C) Jaime Lubin / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @jaimelubin

Lavetta Willis Of New York’s Social Equity Fund Speaks On The CAURD Program

Honeysuckle caught up briefly with Lavetta Willis, General Partner of New York’s Social Equity Fund, at Smacked’s grand reopening press conference, where the financial expert shared her insights on the promise and future of the CAURD program.

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: The transition at Smacked is a major step, as it’s our first justice-involved entrepreneur going from pop-up to buildout. What is the significance of that evolution for you, and what can we look forward to with future buildouts?

LAVETTA WILLIS: One thing we haven’t talked about as much is that funding is not the only component of [the CAURD program]. We all know it takes more than money, and I want people to know we’re providing more than cash. We’re here to support them in their operations; we have such an amazing operations team. It is important to talk about granting access to Black and brown businesses, clearly important. But in addition to that, the other half is that people know we are here to support them in their operational component. We don’t go away. We are available at every step. I just want [entrepreneurs] to know you’re a part of our family. Business compliance is not easy… But you can open this door.

HONEYSUCKLE: Some reports have said CAURD licensees feel that, as people from Black and brown communities that have been historically criminalized, they don’t have accessibility to proper financial education. How are you working with different partners to address that?

WILLIS: On the financial education part, that’s why we negotiate the best deals. We’re very proud of our operational partners [like Temeka Group and Dutchie]. Remember, they’re in the cannabis business as well, so it’s smart money; they’re bringing their own expertise to the table with us. That’s extremely important.

And when I get phone calls about deals that are being put in front of people, that’s exactly what we don’t want to happen, because that’s what happens in every other state. Either people don’t get to open their business because they don’t have money to open them, or they’re subjected to these terms that are just ridiculous and not what the program is about at all. [Our fund] is first of its kind with the private-public partnership. It’s been incredible. But again, it’s the money, the building, the operations. And if we didn’t have the budget, if we didn’t have those operational partners, then I wouldn’t feel comfortable going as big as we need to go.

WILLIS: It is perfectly fine! It has all these wonderful health benefits. But we want communities to know it’s so important who you’re buying from. That’s our job, because we can’t control people. You do hear bad stories about where people might have gotten something and they don’t know where it’s from, so it’s important that we’re welcoming and providing education on what and where they’re buying. And that’s why we want our spaces to encourage communities to get to know us, like Smacked. And [the stores] got to be cute! (Laughs)

But more seriously, for our entrepreneurs and communities, we want to make sure that you prepare. For business owners, we’re giving you targets to hit so that your risk is successful. That’s the other side of it.

HONEYSUCKLE: Recently, when OCM announced 212 more CAURD licensees, and more on the way, there was some question about how many of them would have access to the Social Equity Fund. Is there eventually a plan to create some access for all of them?

WILLIS: That’s a great question. Right now we’re at $200 million. It’s all possible. The current goal is, let’s build out [the first 150 stores] first. That’s where we see it and then we’ll look at where we can keep going. And as my friend Anne Forkutza from Dutchie says, people in other legal markets like Maryland and Minnesota are looking to what New York is doing. They are looking at what we’ve done to optimize what they want to do with their social equity programs. If you look at the markets, we spent three years here charting a very important course. We’re all here as teammates.

Consumers purchase products at Housing Works Cannabis Co (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

Housing Works Cannabis Co Garners $12 Million In Sales During First Six Months Of Operation

On July 31st, Housing Works Cannabis Co announced that it had taken in $12 million in sales during its first six months of operation in New York, directing many of those proceeds into urgent community needs. As the inaugural state-licensed dispensary to open, Housing Works Cannabis Co has had a lot to live up to, but the nonprofit-backed operation has been a shining beacon of hope in exemplifying what a legal cannabis retailer should be. Under its parent organization Housing Works, the cannabis company ensures that proceeds from its sales directly benefit New Yorkers by helping with housing, healthcare, job training, harm reduction, case management, advocacy for health equity and social justice programs, LGBTQIA+ youth programs, and sexual health services.

"Our goal, going back over 30 years ago through Housing Works, has been to empower New Yorkers through advocacy and bridge communities to life saving services," said Sasha Nutgent, Retail Manager at Housing Works Cannabis Co. "From the resources we've rolled out, to the brands we carefully select for our customers, everything we do here has a greater purpose and we're humbled to see the support our mission is receiving."

More recently, the dispensary (located at 750 Broadway) added 200 new products to its menu, bringing more options from queer-, BIPOC- and women-owned and led companies into the store for customers to discover. In the past month, the retailer introduced its debut Black-owned brand Brelixi, which is also woman- and queer-owned, onto its shelves. Housing Works Cannabis Co currently carries seven social equity brands, including Fat Nell, Weekenders, FLAMER, and Drew Martin, with more coming soon.

"One unforeseen challenge and a pain point for both retailers and customers has been product rollout," Nutgent commented. "There have been major improvements with the state's product testing timeline, for example, but the feedback we still hear from some Black-owned brands is that there is not enough funding to get their products into the market."

Housing Works also became the first licensed dispensary to launch a legal delivery service in the state. Handled fully in-house thanks to 30+ years of Housing Works' experience through its thrift furniture donation and pick-up program, deliveries currently account for about 5-7 percent of the dispensary’s sales. Spanning select ZIP codes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, anyone over the age of 21+ with a valid ID can secure same-day and next-day delivery slots directly on Housing Works Cannabis Co's website.

"We've seen our delivery programs over the years forge meaningful and trusting relationships between our staff and thrift store patrons," noted Charles King, CEO of Housing Works. "To see the same positive dynamic emerge between customers and budtenders reflects our roots in the city, our deep understanding of New York City culture and the community trust we continue to nurture."

Join MJ Mondaze Education Series At Housing Works Cannabis Co Starting August 7th

Beginning Monday, August 7th, Housing Works Cannabis Co takes cannabis education to new heights with hands-on events designed to familiarize consumers with plant fundamentals. The “MJ Mondaze” series, taking place on the first Monday of each month, will create experiences around learning responsible consumption and the health and safety facts of cannabis, including both benefits and risk factors.

The premiere event will offer a fun mixology class at Housing Works Bookstore in Soho, in collaboration with The Alchemist’s Kitchen. This session of MJ Mondaze will focus on the most flavorful ways to consume cannabis through mixology and will provide guests with the unique opportunity to learn about various strains and flavor profiles, and how they can be infused into cocktails.

“Mixology Mondaze,” the debut session of MJ Mondaze, happens Monday, August 7th, 6-7:30PM, at Housing Works Bookstore on 126 Crosby Street. RSVP and purchase tickets via Eventbrite.

Gotham Head of Content Rachel Bell (center), who emceed the reading event, celebrates with writers Laura Marie Marciano (left) and Theo Thimo (right) (C) Jack Blasko / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @killjark

Gotham, Honeysuckle, And Drake Fans Launch Poetry And Literature Reading Series

We live for the nights we can’t remember with the people we won’t forget. But it’s nearly impossible to forget the fun we had this Saturday, July 29th, with the team at Gotham in presenting the first of what will be a monthly reading series. In classic New York style, writers gathered at the woman-owned dispensary on 3 East 3rd Street in the East Village to share words that resonated with their hearts and souls (and some, with their loins), against a backdrop of beautiful displays and cannabis education.

Emceed by Gotham’s Head of Content Rachel Bell, herself an accomplished poet and author with five books to her credit, the event served as an unofficial book launch for Titles Ruin Everything, the debut poetry collection by Aubrey Drake Graham (AKA iconic rapper Drake) and Kenza Samir. An eclectic lineup of writers, who all proclaimed themselves Drake fans, took turns reading selections from the volume and then reading their own works that explored their parasocial relationships with the storied artist.

Laura Marie Marciano divulged that Drake inspires many of her creative processes, as evidenced by a poem where she examined how her uniqueness has also made her aware of society’s consumerism. Em Brill meditated on how Drake’s home of Toronto has informed his writing, and then read her own poem drawn from poignant memories of her hometown, Las Vegas. Goddess Earth, a Reiki healer and Tarot reader, chose to focus on the rapper’s lyrics as affirmations that might help to manifest an incredible life. Exhorting the attendees to chant selections like “Call me the referee because I be so official,” there was an instant sense of unity established in the room.

Theo Thimo, who started off his presentation dancing, made sure to ground guests in a bit of reality between the escapism. Choosing to read, “Free all the homies dealing with maximum sentences and free all the women dealing with bare minimum,” he elicited an appreciative murmur from listeners. Hopefully it was not lost on those present that, sitting in a luxuriously designed dispensary sipping on refreshments provided by Cann, we must still remember and advocate for the people who remain suffering under cannabis prohibition across the nation.

Yet clearly everyone came to make the most out of the night, and throughout the readings the dispensary rang with laughter. In lieu of a poem or essay, Rachel Bell read every tweet she had ever composed on Drake, Lil Wayne, and DJ Khaled. From eating edibles at a concert starring Drake and hip hop group The Migos, to wishing she could relive all of 2014 to experience the artist’s songs in that era anew, her random thoughts evoked a simpler time where probably the whole world wishes it could revisit.

Nobody expected fanfiction, but there was plenty of it - homoerotic, laden with references, and utterly delightful. Charlie Dulik analyzed the relationship between Drake and 21 Savage, framing it in an alternate British schoolboy universe not unlike the Harry Potter series, with references to “Headmaster Wayne” and Amber Rose, “the most popular girl in school.” Meanwhile Matt Starr, co-founder of the curated erotica house Dream Baby Press, brought the house down with an imagined scenario of explicit seduction starring Drake and Kanye West.

Elevated as the evening was, to paraphrase a great artist, we’re here for a good time not a long time. Such an ephemeral event had to end - but poetry and literature lovers can rejoice, because we’ll bring new readings to Gotham every month.

If you want to submit works or ideas for our poetry and literature series at Gotham, hit us up at @honeysucklemagazine on Instagram and @HoneysuckleMag on Twitter.

(C) Jack Blasko / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @killjark
Good Grades owners Michael James Jr. and Extasy James (C) Jaime Lubin / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @jaimelubin

Good Grades’ Last Call Before Summer Break

Good Grades in Jamaica, Queens, known for being New York’s first women-owned dispensary to open, is taking a summer break! The retailer, located at 162-03 Jamaica Avenue, will close starting Saturday, August 5th as co-owners Extasy James and Michael James Jr. are beginning their transition from the store’s current pop-up model to a complete buildout. Consumers have the rest of this week to shop and check out the dispensary before the doors shut for “vacation.”

What Else Should I Know About New York’s Cannabis Retail Dispensaries?

New York State currently has 21 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 jaime@honeysucklemag.com.

Housing Works Cannabis, LLC

750 Broadway, New York, NY 10003


Smacked Village

144 Bleecker Street, New York, NY10012


Just Breathe

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


Essential Flowers***

Albany, NY



3 E 3rd Street, New York, NY 10003


Elevate ADK***

Plattsburgh, NY


Social Equity CAURD JV LLC***

Richmond Hill, NY


Stage One Cannabis LLC

810C Broadway, Rensselaer, NY 12144


Flynnstoned Corporation

219 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY 13202


Half Island Flavors LLC***

Bronx, NY


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


Herbal IQ

6055 Transit Road, Depew, NY 14043


Find Out More On Social













































Office of Cannabis Management

Chris Alexander

Housing Works

Sasha Nutgent


Martha Marshall

Breanna Lopresti


Featured image: Gotham dispensary and Honeysuckle launched an inaugural reading series on July 29th. Readers, left to right: Charlie Dulik, Theo Thimo @theoooeooo, Laura Marie Marciano @babyspiceangel777, Rachel Bell @rachelrachelbell, Goddess Earth @yourworldearth, and Matt Starr @mattstarrmattstarr. (C) Jack Blasko / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @killjark