NEW YORK (PIX11) — The New York State Office of Cannabis Management on Monday approved a list of 36 licensees to legally sell recreational marijuana in most jurisdictions across the state. 

One area that was glaringly left off the list was the state’s most populous county, Kings County — which is Brooklyn — due to an ongoing legal battle. That litigation is also restricting licenses from being issued in Westchester County. 

For most of the rest of the state, including the other four New York City boroughs and Long Island, the announcement was met with joy from the businesses and nonprofits that are receiving the licenses, as well as from companies and organizations who hope to get licenses in the next round of license granting.

Matthew Robinson was among the newly named licensees. 

“I know it changes everything,” he said, after being named as one of the 36 who’d successfully gone through the months-long application process. “It doesn’t feel real … There’s just nothing that can explain it.” 

Like all of the license recipients, Robinson had been arrested for marijuana-related incidents in the past when possession was illegal in New York. It had been until last year. 

In 2005, Robinson was detained by police who were looking for someone who’d been in a fight nearby. He hadn’t been involved in the altercation, but he happened to have marijuana on him at the time. 

“I got arrested and booked on a marijuana charge for a fight I had nothing to do with,” he said, but added that for him to now possess a cannabis sales license is recompense. “It’s definitely justice served … and it’s being served in a nice, warm dish right now.”

Robinson also owns a contracting business, called Bold Mold Eliminators. Because he’s a business owner, it put him in the running for a corporate cannabis sales license. He filed for it by creating a new, cannabis sales-specific business, called Essential Flowers.

Robinson is based in Albany, but he requested guidance for applying for a license in Manhattan from the Harlem-based Justüs Foundation. The foundation’s founder, Scheril Murray Powell, said that Robinson was one of 23 people she helped to apply for licenses. The nonprofit director said that she’s looking forward to some of the other people she’s worked with getting their licenses, as well, in subsequent rounds of license granting. 

In the meantime, she pointed out that more will happen in the process leading up to dispensaries opening. 

“There’s a 60-day comment period,” from the public, she said in an interview, and she encouraged public participation. “Please put in your comments about what this industry is going to look like.”

Of the 36 licenses granted on Monday, 28 were for private corporations, including Robinson’s. Eight licenses were granted to nonprofit groups.

In total, at least seven licenses were granted in Manhattan, six in Queens, three in The Bronx, and two on Staten Island.  

However, Brooklyn received no licenses, at least for now. It’s because a lawsuit by a corporation called Variscite NY One has argued that the cannabis licensing policy hurts out-of-state businesses in certain parts of the state, including Brooklyn, Westchester County, and some other counties upstate. 

Mayor Eric Adams released a statement late Monday night lauding the state for “ensuring that social and economic equity will be infused throughout all facets of the emerging cannabis industry.”

This is just the beginning of a multibillion-dollar opportunity for our city, and I am proud that the first legal retail sales will be made by entrepreneurs who were most harmed by previous cannabis criminalization. In addition to prioritizing ‘justice-involved’ applicants, I commend OCM for making the unprecedented decision to offer a portion of licenses to non-profit organizations — like LIFE Camp, Housing Works, and The DOE Fund — that have been working to improve outcomes for marginalized people in New York City for decades. This unique approach accomplishes multiple major milestones: Those directly harmed by cannabis criminalization are given the opportunity to better themselves through entrepreneurship, while also providing funding to non-profit organizations that have historically supported underserved New Yorkers.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams

According to Chris Alexander, the executive director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, some legal marijuana sales should begin before the end of 2022.  

The following are the approved licensees in New York City:            

  1. Nube NYC LLC – Owned by Hector Guerrero, Naiomy Guerrero, Hector Guerrero and Jarron Parnell in the New York State Borough of The Bronx. For (four) years, Hector Guerrero, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Manuel Guerrero Jr a courier and packaging supply business that provided courier services enabling customers to order from various consumer packaged goods and retailers. 
  2. Carl M Anderson III – Owned by Carl Anderson in the New York State Borough of The Bronx. For (six) years Carl Anderson, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated C. Marshall Anderson Consulting, LLC based out of New York City.   
  3. Royal Leaf NY – Owned by Angell Turuseta and Emely Chavez in the New York State Borough of The Bronx. For (four) years Angel Turuseta, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated A & F Fashion- a New York City Based bargain wholesale vendor who supplied sportswear and leisure wear.   
  4. Gabbys Green LLC– Owned by KeithDalessio in the New York State Borough of Queens, New York. For (eight) years Keith Dalessio, a justice-involved applicant owned & operated Gabby Pets INC. a pet supplies retail store in The Bronx, that sold small animals and provided training and grooming services.   
  5. CGG Enterprises Inc.– Owned by Carson Grant in the New York State Borough of Queens, New York. For (eight) years Carson Grant, a justice-involved applicant, owned & Operated CGG Enterprises Inc., a retail and online sales store located in Springfield Gardens, New York, that offered packing, shipping, and delivery services. 
  6. Suzanne M Furboter – Owned by Suzanne Furboter and Fernando Pena in the New York State Borough of Queens, New York. For (13) years Suzanne Furboter and justice-involved applicant, Fernando Pena owned & operated Meatman, Inc a Gastro Pub and Wine Bar located in Astoria, New York.             
  7. Anthony Crapanzano – Owned by Anthony Crapanzano and Candace Lee in the New York State Borough of Queens, New York. For (eight) years Anthony Crapanzano, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Prime Foods Enterprise LLC a Delicatessen restaurant located in Waretown, New Jersey. 
  8. Smacked LLC- Owned by Roland Conner in the New York State Borough of Manhattan, New York. For (six) years Roland Conner, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Advantage Real Estate Group LLC a property management company 
  9. Gabriel Marin – Owned by Gabriel Marin in the New York State Borough of Manhattan, New York. For (three) years, Gabriel Marin, a justice-involved applicant, owed & operated GAM RENO LLC a buy, sell, and install business that served residential properties. 
  10. Planet 51 LLC – Owned by Nicholas Koury in the New York State Borough of Manhattan, New York. For (five) years Nicholas Koury, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Foster House Studios- a recording studio in Albany, New York. 
  11. Florisun LLC – Owned by Keshawn Warner, Richard Rainone, and Christopher Vianelle in the New York State Borough of Manhattan, New York. For (seven) years, Keshawn Warner, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated The Pharmacy Harlem @ LLC, a Retail pharmacy and over-the-counter medication sales. 
  12. Eastern Holdings 88 LLC – Owned by Yan Jin Chen and Zu Rong Chen in the New York State Borough of Staten Island. For (eight) years Zu Rong Chen, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Long Wong Bakery II, Inc. a bakery serving Brooklyn communities that prepared various kinds of fresh baked goods from scratch for customers. 
  13. SAMJNY Holdings LLC – Owned by Mohamed Elgaly and Shlomo Weinstock in the New York State Borough of Staten Island. For (eight) years, Mohamed Elgaly, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Vape Guys LLC , physical retail stores in Staten Island that offered safe, legally compliant smoke vape products to promote health and leisure.

Additional approved marijuana licensees in NY, broken down by region

Capital Region

  1. Stage One Cannabis LLC – Owned by Nathaniel Innes, Galina German-Innes, Sugey Mirsky, and Joshua Mirsky in the Capital Region of New York State. For (11) years Justice involved applicant Joshua Mirsky owed & operated Foster House Studios – Recording studio located in Albany, New York.
  2. D-Andrews LLC – Owned by Donald Andrew in the Capital Region of New York State. For (10) years, Donald Andrew, a justice-involved applicant, owned D Andrew LLC and operated Vaped City Smoke Shop: a retail storefront specializing in smoking, vaping, CBD products, and accessories in Scotia, New York.
  3. Essential Fowers – Owned by Matthew Robinson in the Capital Region of New York. For (three) years Matthew Robinson, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Bold Mold Eliminators, a payroll inventory company based out of Albany that provided customer cleaning, construction point of sale, and talent acquisition.
  4. Capital District Cannabis & Wellness Inc. – Owned by James Frese and Pasha Adams in the Capital Region of New York. For (seven) years, justice-involved applicant, James Frese owned & operated Saratoga Catering Company LLC, a deli & pizzeria serving produce, sandwiches & woodfired pizza, plus catering services for parties and events located in Albany, New York.

Southern Tier

  1. William Durham – Owned by William Durham in the Southern Tier Region of New York State. For (five) years, William Durham a justice-involved applicant, Durham owned & operated WH Convenience Store, a convenience store in Downtown Binghamton, New York that supplied lotto, tobacco, and cold and hot food.
  2. Union Chill Cannabis NY LLC – Owned by Joshua Canfield and Union Chill Cannabis Company LLC in the Southern Tier Region of New York State. For (three) years, Joshua Canfield, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Next Level Wellness, a licensed Hemp Retailer New York State.

Mohawk Valley

  1. Cured NY, LLC – Owned by Francis Russo in the Mohawk Valley Region of New York State. For (six) years Francis Russo, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Premium MFG, LLC, an Oneonta-based design & printing business that offers graphic design products & services through its e-commerce store.

Long Island

  1. Brian Stark Enterprises LLC – Owned by Brian Stark in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (11) years Brian Stark, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Aqua wash laundry corp., a self-serve laundry mat based out of Brooklyn that provided wash & fold services, dry cleaning services, and retail items for laundry.
  2. Albert D Capraro – Owned by Albert Capraro in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (10 years), Albert Capraro, a justice-involved applicant, owned & Operated Long Island Glass Replacement Inc, a retail storefront that sold glass doors, showers, windshields, and installations in Commack, New York.
  3. Strain Stars LLC – Owned by Kamaldeep Singh, Tushar Mallick, Jasmin Kaur, Kamaldeep Singh, Darminder Sing, and Gurmeet Sing in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (five) years Kamaldeep Singh, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Whitestone Mart Inc, a gas station in Whitestone, New York with a retail storefront attached to it. Singh also holds a hemp cannabinoid retail license issued by The Office of Cannabis Management.
  4. Root 13, LLC – Owned by Harpreet Singh and Manjit Singh in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (two) years Harpreet Singh, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Just Accounting, LLC an accounting, tax, bookkeeping, and payroll company based out of Flushing, New York.
  5. Growth Industries NY, LLC – Owned by Daniel Connolly and GI New York, LLC in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (four) years Daniel Connolly, a justice-involved applicant owned & operated Hemp Clouds, LLC, a Retail Smoke Shop in Centereach, New York.
  6. Keep it 100 LLC – Owned by Marquis Hayes, Christina Johnson, James Kahn and Kim Stetz in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (five) years Marquis Hayes, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Brown Butter New York, a high-end catering & specialty foods company.
  7. Hydo Phonics – Owned by John Alvarez and Bryan Whalen in the Long Island Region of New York State. For (five) years, John Alvarez, a justice-involved applicant and licensed contractor owned & operated J & G Construction Management a retail sale, home construction and remodel servicing business in Suffolk country.

North Country

  1. Brent L Rogers – owned by Brent Rogers in the North Country Region of New York State. For (six) years Brent Rogers, a justice-involved applicant, owned & operated Beechnut Ridge Property Management as a General Contractor.

According to the OCM, the following are the approved licenses for eight nonprofits in New York:            

Nonprofit CAURD Profiles 

To qualify for a CAURD license as a nonprofit, the following eligibility requirements had to be met:  

·         a history of intentionally serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals, including justice involved individuals.   

·         a history of creating vocational opportunities for current or formerly incarcerated individuals, including justice involved individuals.   

·         at least one justice involved board member, officer, governing committee member, or advising committee member.   

·         at least five full time employees; and  

·         operated a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two (2) years, defined as a business serving customers, operated by a nonprofit or fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit, which both fulfills the parent organization’s mission and generates revenue. 

  1. Housing Works Cannabis, LLC – HOUSING WORKS — Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, including the recently incarcerated. The New York City-based nonprofit is the nation’s largest community-based AIDS service organization as well as the nation’s largest minority-controlled AIDS organization. It serves over 15,000 people annually through primary and mental health care, case management, reentry services, job training, behavioral health, and more. Their Justice Initiative, launched in 2018, focuses on catering those services to New Yorkers recently released from incarceration, tailoring their work to the specific needs of that population.  Housing Works operates 12 thrift shops, a bookstore café, and a processing and distribution center; all of which employ graduates of their job training and peer training programs and are designed to give them work experience that will help them build for the future. 
  2. The Doe Store LLC – Doe Fund —The Doe Fund was founded in 1987 to break the vicious cycle between mass incarceration, criminal recidivism, and intractable poverty. The Doe Fund is known for operating their landmark initiative, “Ready, Willing & Able,” which provides temporary work, transitional housing, continuing education, career training, and emotional counseling to New York City’s marginalized populations—with a specific focus on supporting people released from prison. Many Ready, Willing & Able participants pursue the Culinary Arts as their occupational training track, paving the way for diverse careers in the food service industry. Dishes by Doe is a full-service, cost-effective catering business that also provides hands-on training and paid work for Culinary Arts program trainees and graduates. Dishes by Doe caters for all occasions, including conferences and fundraising events. 
  3. Urban Weeds LLC – Urban Upbound  — Urban Upbound is a Queens-based organization that assists individuals, including formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, looking for employment. The services they provide include 1-on-1 career counseling, sector-focused job readiness training, financial counseling and job placement and retention services for unemployed and underemployed youth and adults.  Additionally, Urban Upbound operates the Urban Upbound Federal Credit Union (UUFCU), which serves as an important pillar of the Urban Upbound model and an anchor in the community, connecting Queens residents to financial products that promote long-term asset building and economic mobility that are not available through mainstream banks. 
  4. CWS Holdings I, LLC — Challenge Industries — Challenge Industries is a nonprofit organization based in Ithaca, New York that for over 50 years has been committed to creating pathways to employment for people with disabilities or barriers to resources such as justice-involved individuals. Since 1968 Challenge has served over 700 individuals involved with the justice system by providing them with programs that range widely- from pre-vocational services, which offer training and experience in general work skills, to direct placement, which provides jobseekers with the tools and supports to secure full-time employment with opportunity for career advancement. Regardless of funding source each of these programs is highly personalized to best support participants in forging their paths to greater self-sufficiency. Challenge is a partner agency in Workforce Development and has close working relationships with the Tompkins County Department of Social Services, local community service agencies and schools, and ongoing relationships with over 250 employers in Tompkins and surrounding counties in upstate New York. 
  5. NYCCABUDS – Center for Community Alternatives — The Center of Community Alternatives has been a leader in community-based alternatives to incarceration for over 40 years. The organization provides services to communities in New York City, Rochester and Syracuse, including gender-based substance treatment and recovery communities, sentence mitigation, court advocacy, workforce readiness, civic restoration services, emergency/transitional housing, student advocacy, violence prevention, and youth mentoring as well as afterschool programming and career exploration for justice involved youth.  Part of the Center of Community Alternatives’ reintegration services include community-based workforce programs that train justice-involved individuals to prepare for, find, keep and advance in gainful employment. 
  6. Kush & Kemet LLC – LIFE CAMPS — Founded in 2002, LIFE Camps (Love Ignites Freedom Through Education) is a community organization that is a leader in violence prevention and intervention in the country. Investing in local youth’s educational and social development while offering resources for families that have been inaccessible in the past. LIFE Camp says it has contributed to a decline in crime since its founding and through alternative community initiatives that provide mental, physical, and emotional wellness needs of parents and families impacted by the trauma of gun violence. 
  7. On Point Cannabis, INC. – Broome County Urban League — Since 1968, the Broome County Urban League (BCUL) has provided social services for their local community in Binghamton, New York. The BCUL focuses on youth development through after-school programs, tutoring and mentorship opportunities, technology classes, and workforce development. BCUL is committed to supplying justice-involved individuals with resources and education. All programs are available for all, regardless of age.  From 2012-2018 the BCUL co-led a work program that employed justice-involved individuals and others from hard-to-reach populations providing vocational opportunities to increase employability skills. 
  8. GOTHAM CAURD – STRIVE, Inc.  — Founded in 1984, STRIVE has been a national leader in helping those facing the biggest societal barriers to employment. Providing training and support to justice involved individuals, STRIVE has worked to build careers and assist individuals in achieving economic empowerment. Through their re-entry programs STRIVE has administered (10) federal grants, serving (3,500) justice-impacted adults and youth, across (10) U.S. cities, including New York State. With a long history of serving justice involved individuals, STRIVE has transformed the lives of more than 80,000 participants by successfully helping them enter and re-enter the workforce through their STRIVE Career Path and STRIVE Future Leaders.