Staten Island gained its first state-licensed dispensary today with the grand opening of The Flowery at 3022 Veterans Road. The store’s launch serves as a milestone not just for the borough and for New York’s cannabis industry, but also as a reminder in these fraught times that love can triumph over hate.
That’s because The Flowery’s owners, Shlomo Weinstock and Mohammed “Mo” Elgaly, are the first Jewish and Muslim pair to operate a licensed cannabis business together in the Empire State.
Who Are The Flowery's Owners? Shlomo Weinstock and Mohammed Elgaly Bring Legal Cannabis To Staten Island
“We want to show what happens when Jews and Muslims work together,” Weinstock recently told the New York Post.
“We both come from Abraham,” Elgaly stated. “We eat the same food. We have the same personalities.”
Both have complementary backgrounds in business, with Weinstock a former music tour manager and Elgaly having run several eateries, including a pizzeria and bagel shop on Staten Island. The duo believe that their dispensary, which is more spacious than most in New York City and features a parking lot, will serve as a pleasant introduction to the plant for the borough’s residents. With an abundance of quieter suburban environments than other parts of the city, Staten Island’s citizens are more likely to consume at home with friends, and The Flowery’s owners seek to bring that same sense of calm and community to their store.
What Happened At The Flowery's Grand Opening? Inside Staten Island's First Licensed Dispensary
At the grand opening, they were already off to a great start. Brightly colored rugs, product displays and decorations drew visitors in with an aura of warmth truly appreciated on a day that was below freezing. The bustling energy of the first crowd through the door set the tone: Busy, happy, and harmonious.
“He’s the mayor of Staten Island!” Weinstock joked of Elgaly, who has lived in the same neighborhood as their new business location for years.
Does the name The Flowery sound familiar to you? It should if you're from Florida. The brand has its origins in the Sunshine State, where it's known for a longtime commitment to cultivating medical cannabis as the state's only family-owned grow operation. As the team isn't shy to say in its official website bio, "F%$k corporate cannabis, that's not us," it's pretty apparent that their connection to a more universal plant-to-person relationship is powering their New York venture too.
Weinstock and Elgaly's business marks The Flowery's first expansion outside of Florida. Ahead of the launch, the brand's team stated, "The company is especially proud to highlight and elevate its relationship with its local partners and community to rally behind The Flowery initiative: curating quality cannabis in all its expressions alongside a great in-store and online experience, grounded in education and customer service... The company's expansion into New York reflects its meticulous selection process for markets aligning with its dedication to quality. The Flowery’s mission in New York aims to set a new standard for product quality and overall experience while supporting the cultural shift in popular opinion about the plant. It also seeks to preserve its underground history and development."
The Flowery of New York's impressive base was leased with help from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), which is continuing to work with Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees to acquire store locations. Weinstock and Elgaly, who were among the first 150 applicants to be licensed, had been ready to open in August 2023, but got stymied by an injunction from the state’s Supreme Court that ground all CAURD operations to a halt for months.
"A Symbol For The World In Unity"
During that time, the business partners also observed the wider world going awry as the devastation of the Israel-Hamas War affected everyone. Elgaly, who has roots in Egypt, and Weinstock, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, spoke about their pain in watching the violence and death impact both sides.
When Weinstock spoke at a state Cannabis Control Board meeting this fall, only days after the October 7th attack, he mentioned that part of the mission for his partnership with Elgaly was “to act as a symbol for the world in unity.” This is something that both men are dedicated to as Staten Island welcomes The Flowery; they believe that cannabis, as a powerful tool for healing, can help bring some peace to the chaos - at least on a local level.
And on a lighter note, the pair expect that their business might aid in quelling the rivalry over whether New York or New Jersey is pioneering the East Coast legal market.
“You could see the bridge to New Jersey from our store,” Elgaly commented to the Post, speculating that many residents from the other side would find it awfully convenient to drop in. For a bonus, The Flowery is near a ShopRite, so customers can pick up snacks and weed in the same run.
Who Were The Flowery's Special Guests On Opening Day?
In keeping with the theme of unity, the store’s grand opening saw a coalition of cannabis community members from across the Five Boroughs gather in celebration. Sanja Ganja, co-founder of THC Girls; Chef For Higher founder Hawaii Mike; Lisa “VisineQueen” Sanchez of Miss Grass; and cannabis impresario Seth Zaplin were among those vibing out at The Flowery.
By the late afternoon, the beats were popping. Hot 97’s Heavy Hitters were at the helm - DJ Stacks and Manny Mills kept the music as authentically New York as can be. And a freestyle legend made a special appearance: Coro, the Cuban-Dominican singer who first rose to prominence on Miami Vice in the 1980s, then becoming a Billboard favorite with singles like “Where Are You Tonight” and “Can’t Let You Go,” delivered a rare live performance to honor The Flowery’s opening as the historic day it is. For a final surprise - Bing Bong! Coney Island’s favorite son, rapper NEMS, pulled up to bless his adopted borough of Staten Island with his best wishes.
Can Weinstock and Elgaly, as owners of New York’s 49th licensed dispensary, see their goal through to “weed out hate”? We are definitely rooting for their success.
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Featured image: The Flowery of New York owners Shlomo Weinstock (left) and Mohammed "Mo" Elgaly (right) (C) Stefano Giovannini / NY Post, courtesy of Polsinelli Public Affairs