Smacked Village owner Roland Conner is New York’s first dispensary owner with a cannabis conviction. After his new pop-up store becomes permanent, Conner plans to pass the store down to his son.
New York’s mission to roll out the most equitable cannabis industry in the country continues today with the opening of Smacked Village in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Smacked Village is a 30-day pop-up store set to close February 20 then reopen later this year. It’s also the first of many New York dispensaries that will be operated by an owner with a previous cannabis conviction.
Located at 144 Bleecker Street, Smacked will open its doors to adults 21 and over starting at 10 a.m. today and close up at 8 p.m. The store will be New York’s second legal recreational cannabis store. Officials said there are more than 1,200 unlicensed stores currently serving the city’s gray market.
Smacked Village’s legal products will include pre-roll joints from Lobo Cannagars, eighths from Flower House local farms, and Ayrloom’s vapes, edibles, and sparkling beverages. The soft opening, or pop-up launch, means the store will only remain open for the next month before closing to renovate and reopen later this year.
Leafly will be in line to shop and share reviews of the menu and experience throughout the day.
Smacked Village is owned by ‘justice-involved’ New Yorker
Roland Conner, the owner of Smacked, is among New York’s first 36 official licensees, with hundreds more to come. New York dispensary owners must have past New York weed-related convictions (among other requirements) to open a legal dispensary through the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) program. Some New York nonprofits are also eligible for retail dispensary licenses.
New York cannabis office Executive Director, Chris Alexander, joined Conner to celebrate the opening of New York’s second legal weed store. Chris Webber and Lavetta Willis, managers of the state’s social equity fund, were also in attendance.
After the first 175 CAURD stores open, New York will open more application windows. Fellow CAURD applicants from across the state showed their support at Smacked Village’s opening, and many have formed a group to share information and encouragement with one another.
Housing Works, New York’s first licensed dispensary, opened December 29, 2022. The nonprofit is one of the 25 state-licensed organizations with a history of serving individuals harmed by the War on Drugs that will open nonprofit weed stores across New York.
Waiting in line with Smacked’s first customers
At the Smacked Village opening, Leafly spoke to CAURD applicant Coss Marte, who was also the first customer in line. Marte is founder of CONBODY fitness program and now hopes to open ConBud, the first dispensary entirely staffed by legacy market dealers and the formerly-incarcerated.
Marte said he was looking to try out Smacked’s Blueberry Danish strain. Esteemed filmmaker Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) is following Marte’s journey from an outsider’s lens for a documentary project.
Owner Roland Conner was brought to tears when he first saw the Smacked building, according to Mike Wilson of Temeka Group, the company tasked with designing and building out all of New York’s dispensaries. For both the pop-up and the new store, the group plans to use its experience building out existing dispensaries for Cookies and Stiiizy, in addition to creating the Grammy Museum building and the Lakers’ team store.
New York’s social equity fund has been a hot topic in the industry. The state plans to raise $150 million to help start up its first wave of dispensaries. The social equity fund will be combined with an allocated $50 million from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2023 state budget to be used for training programs, store build outs, and forgivable business loans supporting new CAURD dispensaries.
All eyes on New York’s legacy pioneers
Leafly talked to cannabis pioneer Branson about his plans to extend his rich legacy into the legal industry. He’s currently partnered with Cookies to bring the iconic triangle bags he once flooded New York with back into circulation. He’s also getting support from the state’s cannabis office to become a licensed operator with his own storefront. Branson and Smacked Village’s owner Roland Conner are two of the many legacy players poised to make noise in New York’s lucrative legal weed industry.
Savanna Miles from the Bronx Cannabis Hub, who helped Roland execute his application said, “We were helping fund a lot of the people through the application process [and] we assisted over 33 people in the first round of applications.” Miles added that Conner was one of three applicants who made it through the entire process. “We’ve been helping Roland basically from seed to submission,” Miles said, “from the start of the cannabis hub, all the way through to the end.” Miles noted that Conner’s home borough of The Bronx was one of the most impacted areas during the War on Drugs.
“I think this is the right way. I’ve been arrested nine times; we deserve some type of reparations.”
Coss Marte, CAURD applicant, founder of of CONBODY fitness program and the ConBud cannabis dispensary
Also in line on day one were cultivators, prospective applicants, and nonprofit workers who are tapped in to New York’s budding industry. One older gentleman, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had come because he’d already been to Housing Works, and heard Smacked had better hours. He was also happy to revel in the thrill of legally purchasing cannabis in New York.
Here’s a preview of Smacked Village’s cannabis brands
Customers will find some overlap with Housing Works’ menu and some new options. Ayrloom vapes and low-dose beverages are poised to be best-sellers. Expect to pay around $50 to $100 for a vape cartridge and the drinks come in four-packs for $23. Smacked Village will also carry eighths of bud from Flower House, Fat Nell, Harney Brothers Cannabis, and Florist Farms, with eighth prices in the $60–$80 range. Theory’s gummy edibles (100 mg total) will also be available for $40.
If you read Leafly, most of the strains will look familiar. For now, Smacked offers a variety of OGs, Cookies family crosses, and a couple classics and exotics. Despite the strain’s reputation, the polarizing Purple Punch by Fat Nell left one of our Leafly writers surprisingly stoned, and with that sweet grape flavor purples are known for.
One Smacked Village budtender, Eric Torres, previously sold weed on the legacy market before getting his new gig. “It’s been illegal for so long,” Torres said, adding that he is “excited to help people in this way now.”
Shoppers can buy pre-rolls from Lobo Cannagars world-famous pre-rolls. Eduardo Whittington, aka Eddie Lobo, runs multi-state company, Lobo Cannagar, and hopes to receive a license to manufacture cannabis products in his home state of New Jersey’s adult-use market soon. For now, he’s partnered with local New York growers to become one of the first products on shelves at retail dispensaries.
In 2022, Whittington told Leafly that Lobo Cannagar’s business model is unique for a multinational cannabis operation. The company doesn’t grow cannabis or sell it out of its own stores. Instead, it partners with the best possible operators in each market to collaborate on hand-rolled bangers that leave an impression on whoever hits them.
“I run my business this way because there is no national cannabis yet,” Whittington explained. “Each state has its own kind of rules and regulations, like a fiefdom with little lords ruling over their states,” he said. The fractured industry presented a lane for Lobo to become a non-plant touching business that glides across borders with relative ease. As more markets come online, the model should continue to thrive.
How Dutchie will power New York dispensary sales
New York selected Canadian cannabis technology platform Dutchie to provide free POS services to social equity dispensaries. Anne Forkutza, Dutchie’s head of market expansions, told Leafly that the company has been hosting educational seminars to teach license holders the basics of running a retail operation, in addition to providing the backend technology for all transactions.
Dutchie will supply the tablets, registers, and user experiences for every New York dispensary for the time being. The company specializes in back-end data flow and processes that help weed stores in 36 US markets, as well as Canada-based dispensaries.
Concentrates, edibles, and beverages will sell fast
Smacked Village’s menu includes a bevy of THC-infused items that New Yorkers are searching high and low for. High-quality, consistent, and safe edibles should sell like hot cakes, no matter the cost. Housing Works’ dispensary down the street has had trouble keeping their gummies on shelves despite much more affordable options being available across the city.
How do we know? We stopped by three separate times this month hoping to grab New York’s first legal THC-infused gummies. So far, we’ve been close, but no cigar — all of the Florist Farms edibles were sold out. At Smacked, cart smokers should appreciate having regulated options, even if they cost a pretty penny, for now.
What’s next for Smacked Village?
The Smacked Village pop-up store will remain open until February 20, after which it will close to finish more permanent renovations. DASNY President Reuben McDaniel stated at a press conference Monday that the updates could cost well over $1 million.
The new store will help even the score of licensed and unlicensed stores, which now stands at two to roughly 1,200. Citizen complaints, reports of toxic products, and the need to protect incoming legal businesses have all inspired regulators to crack down on unlicensed storefronts in recent months. In March 2021, New York’s legalization law immediately allowed possession and consumption, but did not provide licensed options until Housing Works opened the state’s first legal store in December 2022.
This story will be updated with prices, product reviews, and more from day one at Smacked Village.