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Bayside native planning to open cannabis dispensary with help from justice involved program

Jul. 19, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

Thanks to New York state’s justice involved program for giving out Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) licenses, Bayside native Sean Kang is looking to open his own dispensary in Queens.

After being approved to receive a CAURD license in New York City last April, Kang and his business partners are in the process of finding a suitable location from which they can operate their own dispensary.

A Cardozo High School alumni, Kang hopes to give back to the community he grew up in through his dispensary. In the search for a location, he and his business partner have been mindful of making sure the spaces they’ve looked at are far enough away from schools, houses of worship and other dispensaries in order to meet the requirements demanded by the city. Under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, dispensaries are required to be located at least 500 feet away from school grounds and at least 200 feet away from houses of worship.

Justice involved individuals like Kang are people who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses in New York State prior to March 31, 2021. In order to apply for a CAURD license, a business must be at least 10% owned by a justice involved individual for a minimum of two years. The individual is required to provide arrest records for cannabis.

“I think New York did a good job offering native New Yorkers the first licenses,” Kang said. “I think they did right by the state to give a chance to the justice involved individuals. Most states don’t operate like that.”

Kang noted the vast difference being able to legally sell cannabis now, as opposed to back when the sale and use of it was illegal in New York state. Before it was legal, he said there was a lot of anxiety for those selling it, as well as those purchasing it, as both had to be very careful not to get caught. He noted it was especially nerve-wracking during the time period when the New York City Police Department was regularly implementing stop and frisk.

Kang said he was arrested for marijuana possession back in 2004, which made him eligible for the justice involved program. He is hopeful that a location in Queens can be finalized and approved before opening within the next few months. This optimism comes despite concerns from him and fellow licensees about being boxed out from the scarce amount of locations that fit the necessary criteria to be allowed to operate from there.

“We really want to give back to the community,” Kang said. “We really want to do the right thing. It was a different landscape [selling cannabis] a long time ago. We aim to set a new standard of excellence within the cannabis community through education of responsible consumption and community outreach programs.”

Kang is scheduled to meet with Queens Community Board 11 on July 26 about the prospect of opening the business within their jurisdiction. He will share the business’ plans for safety concerns, compliance, opportunities and how to be a responsible neighbor.

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