New York's unique adult-use legal cannabis rollout continued on Jan. 24 with the soft opening of a new store in Manhattan, Smacked! Village, just blocks from where the first one, Housing Work Cannabis Co., opened one month ago. Now there are two.
Smacked! at 144 Bleecker St. has the distinction of being "justice-involved." Owner Roland Conner was previously arrested, convicted and jailed for marijuana, which qualified him for a conditional license that allows equity applicants in the door first.
Three decades ago, Connor, now 50, ran afoul of the law in Far Rockaway where he grew up in an economically-depressed housing project. “We were basically poor," he says. "Like any other New York City housing project, it was just riddled with poverty and drugs... Back in 1991, that’s when I started getting locked up for cannabis and just getting sucked into the streets at that point... If they found some type of drugs on you, they would just lock you up.”
Chris Webber and Lavetta Willis were there greeting new customers. In 2022, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) tapped the NBA Hall of Famer, Willis and several others to manage the state's $200 social equity fund. Smacked is their baby. It will operate as a pop-up through Feb. 20, close for further renovations and relaunch later in 2023. OCM helped find the location (an old Duane Reade drugstore) and spruce it up for a quick opening.
"For now Manhattan's Union Square and Greenwich Village are the centers of state's legal cannabis universe."
Five different growers are represented in the flower department - Fat Nell, Florist Farms, Flowerhouse. Harney Brothers Cannabis and Lobos. All flower products are outdoor, which is less than optimum. Prices with tax figured in range from $61-$73 per eighth with several Lobos smalls at $147 per half. Different size prerolls go from $21-$61. Vape carts from Ayrloom, Florist Farms, Jaunty and Theory FX run from $51-$96. The limited edibles lineup includes sparking waters from Ayrloom ($23) and chews from Theory FX ($40).
There wasn't much of a line to get in (maybe a 10 minute wait). The courteous and diverse staff directs you to the menu and you make selections after having some discussion. At the counters, only cash is accepted.
I purchased an eighth of Wedding Cake from Florist Farms. The jar lid says 29% THC and 3% CBD. The receipt from Dutchie reads: $52.14 subtotal, $8.77 cannabis tax and $2.09 sales tax for a $61.00 order total. However, a second receipt reads: $31.44 subtotal and $29.56 total tax for a $61.00 total. The taxes are: $28.30 (5% retail) and $1.26 (4% sales).
The next store slated to open on Feb. 13, also in Manhattan near the other two, is called Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store at 62 E. 13 St. It's licensed to another nonprofit, the Doe Fund, and operated by Harbour Community. After a soft launch, the store will also close as the 5,000 square foot space at 835 Broadway, also on E. 13 St., is readied for a summer reopening.
So for now Manhattan's Union Square and Greenwich Village are the centers of the state's legal cannabis universe.
5 Things to Do While There
• Get a slice at Joe's Pizza (7 Carmine St.)
• Smoke a joint in Washington Square Park
• Watch basketball at W. 4 St and Sixth Ave.
• Try the curry tacos at Taco Mahal (73 Seventh Ave. So.)
• Show your pride at The Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher St.)