Queens' First Legal Pot Shop Opens Today — and This One Is Extra Unique

The state announced earlier this month it would double the number of adult-use retail dispensary licenses thanks to a new public-private partnership, which is how Good Grades is getting its start

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What to Know

  • New York said earlier this month it would double the number of licenses statewide -- and this will be the first woman-owned dispensary supported by its social equity investment fund
  • There initially were going to be 150 conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses; now it's 300
  • This licensure effort was enhanced through the creation of the $200 million New York State Social Equity Cannabis Fund, a public-private partnership providing renovated retail locations

Queens gets in on the recreational marijuana craze sweeping Manhattan Thursday as the state opens the borough's first woman-owned pop-up dispensary supported by the state's social equity investment fund.

Sales at the dispensary, called Good Grades, open to the public at 2 p.m. at 162-03 Jamaica Avenue.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the planned opening earlier this week. It comes on the heels of the state's announcement earlier in the month that it was doubling the number of conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses, from 150 to 300, thanks largely to that $200 million public-private partnership. It's a first-in-the-nation program that provides renovated retail locations to entrepreneurs previously criminalized by the illegality of cannabis.

Hochul says Good Grades is a woman-owned family business run by Extasy James and her cousin, Michael James, Jr., a Jamaica, Queens native and legal advocate for minority business owners.

Good Grades initially opens as a "pop-up," as is the case with some other dispensaries supported by the New York State Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund. It helps them open on a short-term basis to fast-track sales, provide training opportunities for employees and start generating capital for their businesses.

Then they close for final construction and reopen for the long term.

As many celebrate the legalization of marijuana, not everyone wants to smell it. There have been so many complaints, Times Square is now reminding weed lovers that all smoking is banned from the public plaza, and there are new signs posted to alert everyone. NBC New York's Myles Miller reports.

According to the state, the pop-up program benefits all businesses involved in the cannabis supply chain, including farmers who have cannabis ready for distribution, processors who are making cannabis into other types of products, and distributors and retail operators who work to provide consumers with access to safe products they can trust.

Extasy James says she's thrilled to be opening not just the first woman-owned dispensary under the state program, but the very first one in Queens.

"We are incredibly passionate about providing greater access to cannabis and breaking down the barriers that prevent so many people, especially those from marginalized communities, from experiencing the benefits of this amazing plant," she said in a statement. "We understand firsthand the stigma that has been attached to cannabis for far too long, and we are eager to join the thriving cannabis community to help change that. Our dispensary is a welcoming and inclusive space where anyone can come to learn, explore, and find the products best suited to their unique needs."

New York has said its Office of Cannabis Management has gotten about 900 applications so far for the conditional retail sale licenses. Thus far, about 70 provisional licenses have been issued.

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