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At least three stores backed by nonprofits are getting ready to open in Union Square area


The Travel Agency Blog

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state’s Office of Cannabis Management have unveiled a verification tool as well as a logo to be displayed on cannabis dispensaries licensed by the state. NYS OFFICE OF CANNABIS MANAGEMENT


New York State’s newly licensed cannabis stores are gearing up to open their doors as soon as possible, as state and city officials move to clamp down on sellers of unlicensed weed.


For many in the business, the stores are opening after years of effort.


“We’re very excited to be opening a legal cannabis store in the New York market, and we’re thrilled about the good it’s going to do,” said Paul Yau, co-founder of Harbour Community, which is opening a store in a former bank on 13th Street and Broadway.


Harbour Community has teamed up to run the dispensary with the Doe Store, one of eight nonprofits to win a cannabis license from New York state last month.


More than half of the profits from the Harbour Community adult-use retail dispensary will be donated to the Doe Store, which helps ex-prisoners find jobs and housing.


Harbour Community hopes to open its store by the end of January. It will meet with Manhattan Community Board 2 to discuss the board’s nonbinding recommendations to the state regarding the operating plans for the dispensary.


Harbour Community, which was co-founded by community organizer and economic policy expert Arana Hankin-Biggers, has yet to announce a brand name for the store. It is hiring a staff of 50 for the store and lining up inventory to sell, among other start-up tasks.


Officials do not want to crowd jails with people operating unlicensed cannabis stores, but they are stepping up fines and other activities to reduce competition with legally sanctioned businesses.


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state’s Office of Cannabis Management unveiled a verification tool as well as a logo to be displayed on cannabis dispensaries that are licensed by the state. (See photo at the top of this story.)


New York City Mayor Eric Adams is also vowing to curtail illegal sales by working with state authorities and by supporting a policy of educating people about cannabis stores and the opportunities for people in the legacy market to get jobs in the legal market. The city will confiscate illegal cannabis products and issue fines, but it will not incarcerate people.


“Unlicensed cannabis stores are threatening a budding economic opportunity for our city,” Adams said on Twitter Thursday.


Harbour Community’s Yau said the company is “100% supportive” of what the city is trying to do.


“They’re also trying to make a distinction between legacy operators and people who are being opportunistic who have opened up stores in the past 18 months,” Yau said.


Last month, the state awarded 37 of an expected 150 cannabis business licenses to people affected by the war on drugs and to nonprofits that have been working to address social problems caused by cannabis incarcerations.


Twenty-eight of the licenses went to business owners who have cannabis convictions or who have a family member with a cannabis conviction, and eight went to nonprofits.


Along with the Doe Store, those nonprofits include Housing Works, which has been operating a thrift store to help people who have AIDS or who are experiencing homelessness, and Strive, a job-training and career-services provider.


All three of those pot shops will be in or around Union Square. Housing Works will be located in a former Gap Inc. store on Broadway and 8th Street, and Strive is planning a retail shop on 3rd Street in the East Village.


Housing Works plans to open on Dec. 29, according to reports.


Yau, who formerly worked on the investment and operations side of the cannabis business in Massachusetts, has a long track record of supporting nonprofits that help communities affected by the war on drugs.


Harbour co-founder Hankin-Biggers is a New Yorker who has worked in local politics, economic development policy, community development and real estate, with a focus on creating opportunities for communities of color.


Meanwhile on Dec. 9, the New York Office of Cannabis Management set guidelines to allow retail license holders to deliver to customers 21 and over even if their stores are not yet up and running. The license holders are able to hire up to 25 people for their delivery businesses. Harbour Community plans to launch delivery through its store, as well.


Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 2:24 p.m. ET By Steve Gelsi

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