Good news for law-abiding Brooklynites: Soon you can finally try marijuana for the first time. Cannabis, that rare and elusive mind-altering substance that is otherwise impossible to purchase anywhere in the city (certainly not at every corner vape shop), will soon be legally available in the borough.
New York regulators approved 99 new provisional licenses for recreational marijuana dispensaries Monday, including three in Brooklyn for the first time.
To date only seven stores have opened across the entire city, even though New York technically legalized marijuana two years ago. As it tries to accelerate a rollout that had been slowed by a court ruling that put a hold on issuing licenses in the borough, the state’s Cannabis Control Board has approved the marijuana sales licenses in several parts of New York, including Buffalo and here. Applicants will still need to complete a supplemental application
Misha Morse-Buch, a Crown Heights resident, was awarded one of three licenses. He owns “I Love My Pet Food and Supplies” on Nostrand Avenue and was given priority by the state as a “justice applicant,” meaning he had previously been convicted of a low-level marijuana-related offense.
“It almost feels not real, I still can’t almost comprehend that it’s happened the way that it’s happened,” he told The City. “Literally went from the people trying to lock me in a little box to here’s a life possibly.”
The other two licenses also were awarded to justice applicants. Another winner was a company called Level Up NYC Corp., owned by Brooklyn residents Justin Boyer, Catherine Ouellette and John Rufino. They previously operated a sneaker shop in Albany.
The third license went “Dank Heaven,” owned by Brooklyn residents Mark Shifrin, Leroy Dunn and Paul Shifrin. Mark has previously owned a dispensary in Tacoma, Washington.
It’s unclear when or where the dispensaries will open, as the process of opening a storefront can take months. And awarding just three licenses in the state’s most populous county falls far short of demand, a problem that the board’s director acknowledged and said was because of the injunction.
“We got a lot to do in terms of catching Brooklyn up, so we’re going to get on it,” the board’s executive director Chris Alexander told The City. “Hopefully by the May meeting we get a bunch more ready.”
Since recreational weed sales were approved two years ago, as many as 1,500 illegal dispensaries have popped up across the city and Brooklyn. High times for those shops may soon be coming to an end, though, as Governor Kathy Hochul is giving city officials expanded power to shut them down and slap on fines of upwards of $200,000 according to legislation.