Three legal cannabis dispensaries are in the clear to open up in Brooklyn. New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) approved Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) business licenses for three applicants who have been impacted by cannabis-related convictions after a meeting at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights on Monday. California-based producers of cannabis extracts and vape technology expect to expand their market into the borough as soon as July.
The news came less than a week after a federal court lifted an injunction that had blocked licenses for the borough. Only seven licenced stores have opened so far —three in Manhattan, one in Queens opened just earlier this month and the others upstate.
All three licenses were awarded to ‘justice applicants’, those who have been convicted of a low-level marijuana-related offense in the past.
One of the licence receivers is Crown Heights resident, Misha Morse-Buch owner of the Nordstrand Ave.’s I Love My Pet Food and Supplies store and Brooklyn College graduate. The second is a company called Level Up NYC Corp., owned by Brooklyn residents Justin Boyer, Catherine Ouellette and John Rufino, former owners of a sneakers shop in Albany. Finally, “Dank Heaven,” owned by Brooklynites Mark Shifrin, Leroy Dunn and Paul Shiffrin. Shifrin previously owned a dispensary in Washington state.
Brands such as California’s Jetty Extracts, that has raised over $7 million in funding, are making their way to New York hoping to break into Brooklyn’s market. Jetty’s made first interstate expansion to New York last week and now has products available in all three of Manhattan’s legal dispensaries. The company’s co-founder, Ron Gershoni is hoping to expand into Brooklyn’s legitimate stores by July.
“New York’s a massive market,” said Gershoni. “Almost all the projections for cannabis are that New York is gonna be the second biggest market behind California, if not even overtake it in cannabis sales. And it’s also a taste maker market. It’s where brands are made.”
The products Jetty sells in New York grows in the Hudson Valley. The company partners with small, family-owned farms that focus on regenerative, biodynamic farming practices including Hepworth Farms, a female-owned organic farm established in 1818.
“We have really good local partners in New York,” said Gershoni, but he coincides with the New York City Council’s concern on the challenge that untaxed illegal marihuana stores pose for regulated businesses. The illicit cannabis retaiofficials estimating 1,500 illegal cannabis stores are operating in the city. Gov. Kathy Hochul has introduced legislation that would call for strict financial and tax penalties.
“I went into a bunch of illicit stores in New York and they have lots of California brands,” said Gershoni. “A lot of our competitors are bigger players who I think are scared of New York because of how that illicit market is, but we’re used to that because that’s what we have in California. We operate alongside it and we’ve done very well, so, it’s not something that we’re not expecting or that is gonna go away in order for to be successful. The best reason to shop at a legal store is that they’re gonna get a better product that is more consistent and higher quality. That’s what we’ve provided here in California and as a result, we’ve had growth in eight out of nine years of operation.”