JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11) — The Good Grades dispensary team posed for a last-minute photo Wednesday, only minutes before the shop’s official grand opening on Queens’ bustling Jamaica Avenue.
Right after that photo, Liz, the first of a few customers, showed up looking for legal, regulated weed.
“Them other ones, they be having junk sometimes,” said Liz.
PIX11 News was at Good Grades earlier this year when 26-year-old Extasy James and her cousin and co-owner Michael James conducted a temporary, soft opening.
Now eight months later, the opening is the real deal for Queens’ first recreational sales dispensary, and New York City’s first to be majority owned by a woman.
“I’m just very excited. Being a woman business, giving women an opportunity, it’s a big deal,” said Extasy James.
In the first two quarters of this year, New Jersey – which granted licenses to existing, corporate-backed medical dispensaries – generated a whopping $305 million in sales. That’s compared to $31.7 million in sales in the state of New York, which has so far focused on enabling smaller, justice-involved entrepreneurs like Extasy.
And while New Jersey has yet to release third quarter sales numbers, New York saw a staggering 121% increase in sales from the second to third quarter of this year.
Good Grades is also taking the unique step of working on a partnership with Queens College – part of the CUNY system – to offer a $20,000 scholarship to undergraduate students eligible across several majors.
“What we want to do is support the next generation in this new industry from neighbrorhoods that we’re from too,” said Michael James.
Floyd Jarvis is the Cannabis Workforce Development director for CUNY sister college BMCC.
“It shows the ways that cannabis can be innovative, even in education. It’s all hands on deck in the city, as well as the state, for cannabis,” said Jarvis.
Good Grades also has aspirations to extend its undergrad scholarship program to York College, which is located just a few blocks away.