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New York Eases Restrictions on Cannabis Dispensary Locations

The New York Office of Cannabis Management eased restrictions on the locations for the state’s first cannabis dispensaries last week, allowing the business owners to choose the site for their retail operation. Prior to the changes, new owners had to agree with a location that was assigned by government agencies.

This change comes just three weeks before retail recreational cannabis sales are allowed in New York. It gives licensees of new retail dispensaries the freedom to choose the best location, provided that they have state approval. It is expected that the new policy will ease the financial burden on the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which provides financing and real property to new marijuana business owners. The change was announced by the state’s cannabis regulatory agency, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), in a statement on Friday, according to a report from The New York Times.

The OCM recently announced that 28 people who have been convicted of marijuana related offenses in the past and eight non-profit organizations which serve those with previous arrests or convictions were granted the first three dozen Conditional Alcohol-Use Retail Drug (CAURD), licenses. The plan allows licensees to receive a dispensary location that is ready for them. DASNY is having difficulty securing and preparing the retail storesfronts required to open the 175 dispensaries under the CAURD program. This makes it unlikely that sales of cannabis will start before the end.

Damian Fagon, the OCM’s chief equity officer, said that the agency made the change after conferring with the first business owners awarded licenses, many of whom expressed a desire for more flexibility with the site for their shops. DASNY is no longer under pressure to hurry the lease process.

“It’s just about adapting to changing circumstances, and making this thing work for New York,” Fagon said, adding: “People are ready to make some money, and we’re ready to make that as easy as possible for them.”

First Lease Signed by Agency for Dispensary Storefront

Reuben R. McDaniel III, the president and chief executive officer of DASNY, announced that the agency has signed the first lease to a Harlem retail cannabis dispensary site. This property is just steps from the Apollo Theater. 

“I’m pleased to announce that last night we signed our first lease,” he told the DASNY board. “For those of you familiar with Harlem, you can stand at the Apollo and throw a baseball right across the street.”

McDaniel indicated that preliminary designs for the 2,800-square foot site have been completed by McDaniel’s design team. He also noted that construction will begin after final plans have been approved and signed off on by DASNY. Although he did not specify which licensee would receive the location, he said that the agency hopes it will sign many more leases before the end.

Keshawn Warner was one of those business owners who were granted a CAURD dispensary license. Warner owns The Pharmacy of Harlem in Harlem and his wife. Warner said that he still hasn’t been informed where the dispensary will locate. Warner is also awaiting official notification about rules that govern cannabis delivery operations, before his retail store is open. 

“Location, you obviously have your desires,” Warner told online New York news source The City. “Most important to me is the effectiveness of the roll-out.” 

“If it is in Harlem, it would be great for Harlem,” he added. “It’s a moment in history.”

Vladimir Bautista is the Chief Executive of Happy Munkey, a New York-based lifestyle and events brand. He applied for a retail licence. The OCM policy allows cannabis dispensary owners the freedom to select a site for their business. This will allow them to be more flexible in starting operations quickly.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “If we were just counting on the state, that limited us.”