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  • Alexander Encore

New York's Cannabis Circus

Building on the California movement to allow cannabis farmers to sell “Direct -to-Consumers” a few times a year at Farmers Markets and the like, something similar is already happening in New York in advance of the rollout of their retail licensing regime. Check out the article in the UK Guardian:

Move over, Giuliani: How Loopholes Sparked A Golden Age Of Cannabis in New York”


Possession and consumption of cannabis has been legal in New York for almost a year, but there are few legal dispensaries where you can buy it. The weirdness in the timing of the rollout of the New York program is causing some strange, almost comical, solutions.

There’s a mobile dispensary in New York City called The Green Truck. Like a roach coach for weed.

“For the past few months, anyone visiting Katz’s Deli in the Lower East Side of Manhattan – as famous for its role in When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having”) as it is for pastrami – has queued near a green-painted food truck, strategically parked on Houston Street to capture Katz’s foot traffic, adorned with multi-colored LED signage advertising the city’s latest hot delicacy: cannabis.”

$60 bucks will get you an 1/8th, the strains are listed on a dry-erase board in each truck. And by "each truck", we mean that Business is SO GOOD, that if you go to you’ll see the trucks are at 8 locations throughout Manhattan and 1 in Cobble Hill near Brooklyn Heights. And the $60 is technically a donation, so even when a police car is parked directly behind the Green Truck, as was mentioned in the article… Johnny Law won’t do anything. Nor if you smoke on the street.

The State anticipates it will have demand of between $3.7 and $5.8 Billion per year doesn’t expect to have its licensing scheme together until the Fall of this year (maybe), but in the meantime, the weed business is on fire.


Milton Washington, who’s been selling weed for 15 years, “plans to transition his current “if you know, you know”-style cannabis speakeasy to a legal, licensed consumption lounge. Along with sommelier-level curation, the lounge will host a cannabis-centric and “unapologetically Black” fitness-and-wellness exercise he calls “Rokmil”. In the meantime, he’s just running his business right out of his 19th Century brownstone in Washington Heights.

“Increasingly competitive delivery services paste QR-code activated menus on bus stops, bike-shares, and subway ads, with discounted and even free weed to entice new customers or referrals. There are pop-up “seshes” almost every night of the week. Upscale restaurants advertise cannabis-infused dinners or brunches. Members-only clubs and lounges advertise memberships and screen applicants on Instagram. “Smoke shops” openly selling cannabis are popping up to fill previously empty retail space in the outer boroughs. And … the Empire Cannabis Clubs operates two well-advertised storefronts, in Chelsea and in the Lower East Side.”

It’s all not-quite-legal, and the State has started to send out cease and desist letters which, they claim, will reflect badly on people’s license applications when they’re available. “Either you risk a future license by building a brand and a following now, or you sit back and wait for a permit – and risk losing everything to the “Chads and Brads” … the well-capitalized white entrepreneurs with no cannabis background but traditional business acumen and political connections, who have executed what amounts to a hostile takeover of the cannabis industry in other states,” according to Luis Cantillo and Byron Bronson, the co-founders of Buddy’s Bodega.


Outside the Big Apple, indigenous tribes have opened dispensaries already because they are independent nations. The Mohawk Nation, which is not going to answer to the “Saint Regis” name anymore, as well as the Seneca, Cuyuga nations are operating upstate, while the Shinnecock Indian Nation has just opened “Little Beach Harvest” in the Hamptons... just in time for spring and summer break. Hope they all make bank while they can, build brands while they can, and get a piece of this whole New York thing.

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