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By Bobby Cuza | NY1 Manhattan, Posted Feb. 13, 2023

Terrence Coffie made the first purchase Monday at the city’s newest marijuana dispensary.


Coffie, co-founder of the group Cannabis Justice Equity Initiative, spent time in prison and later received help from the Doe Fund, a nonprofit that provides job opportunities and shelter to the homeless and formerly incarcerated.


“This comes full circle,” said Coffie.


“When I got out of prison,” he said, “I came to the Doe Fund in an effort to change my life.”



What You Need To Know

    • The The Travel Agency, the city’s third legal cannabis dispensary, opened in Manhattan on Monday
    • The dispensary license belongs to the Doe Fund, a nonprofit that provides job opportunities and shelter to the homeless and formerly incarcerated
    • More than half the dispensary’s profits will be directed to the nonprofit



The Doe Fund is one of eight nonprofits serving the formerly incarcerated that have received dispensary licenses. Most of the net revenue from the newly opened dispensary, called the The Travel Agency, will go toward its programs.


“It’s a perfect match,” said Felipe Vargas, senior vice president of programs at the Doe Fund. “We’re about economic empowerment at the Doe Fund. And this is a perfect opportunity for us to empower the people that we serve.”


The The Travel Agency is the state’s fourth dispensary to open shop and the third in the city. The ongoing rollout of the legal market comes as authorities continue to crack down on illegal sales. Officials say not only is the product at legal dispensaries locally produced and tested for quality, but the money goes to the right place.


“Fifty percent of the profits are going to the Doe Fund to keep their operations going,” said Damian Fagon, the chief equity officer for the state Office of Cannabis Management. “Of the taxes I’m about to pay on that product, 40% is going back to communities disproportionately impacted, 40% is going to public schools, 20% to drug rehabilitation. So my dollar that I’m spending at a store like this is going so far to make this a better state.”


A line formed down the block in advance of the store’s opening Monday. But the hoopla was muted compared to the opening of previous stores, and officials say that’s not a bad thing.


“I’m looking forward to the day where this is not a news event, where this is just part of a new sector,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “We’re going to get there.”


While the first three dispensaries to open are closely clustered in Manhattan, officials say many more will open across the five boroughs in the weeks and months to come. Altogether, the state has issued 28 licenses for dispensary locations in the city.


By Bobby Cuza | NY1 Manhattan, Posted Feb. 13, 2023

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