New York’s second legal weed dispensary is opening on Bleecker Street

January 20, 2023

Streetview of 144 Bleecker Street © 2023 Google

New York’s second legal recreational cannabis shop is set to open in Greenwich Village next week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday. Smacked LLC, located inside a nearly 200-year-old building at 144 Bleecker Street, will open its doors to the public on January 24 at 10 a.m. The store is the first in the state to be opened by an entrepreneur with a cannabis conviction, as part of a program to ensure equity in licensing. Owned and operated by Roland Conner, Smacked LLC will operate as a soft “popup” through February 20 and re-open as a long-term business at a later date.

The state’s first legal recreational cannabis shop opened at 1 Astor Place at the end of December. Run by Housing Works, a local non-profit founded in 1990 to address the HIV/AIDS and homelessness crisis, the dispensary was the first business to receive one of the state’s 36 licenses approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Board.

Before receiving the license for 144 Bleecker Street, Conner operated property management businesses throughout the city for the last 15 years. Currently, Conner manages a housing facility that provides shelter to two dozen men in the Bronx transitioning from being homeless, according to Hochul’s office.

“I am so excited to become a part of history as the first individual to open a legal cannabis dispensary in NYC. Given my experience with cannabis, I never could have imagined that I would be opening a store like this,” Conner said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to open a business with my son and wife at my side and build generational wealth, working together, right here in New York. But this is not just about me and my family.”

Conner continued: “This is about everyone who was harmed by the draconian drug laws of the past. New York’s commitment to righting those wrongs through the law is inspiring. I am proof of that commitment because I’m standing here today.”

As part of the pop-up program, dispensaries are given additional time to train their employees and prepare for their official openings.

“This dispensary is the latest example of our efforts to build the most equitable and inclusive cannabis industry in the nation,” Hochul said.

“As we continue to work toward righting wrongs of the past, I look forward to new dispensaries – owned by those most impacted by the over-policing of cannabis prohibition – opening soon.”

Smacked LLC will be part of the NY Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, which supports the creation of legal cannabis dispensaries operating under state-appointed CAURD licenses. The licenses are prioritized for individuals interested in opening dispensaries who have prior cannabis convictions or have close family members that do. Non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals who “have been harmed by the unequal enforcement of cannabis prohibition” may also qualify.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. (1935). Mori’s Restaurant, 144 Bleeker Street. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections

The building at 144 Bleecker Street was built in the 1830s and later was home to the Italian dining establishment Mori Restaurant, which many influential architects of the time were said to frequent. In the 1960s, the building was converted into a movie theater and became known for its screenings of foreign and independent films. The theater closed its doors in 1991.


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