State Approves Pot Dispensary License to Schenectady Resident, Hemp Entrepreneur

SCHENECTADY — Longtime Schenectadian Donald Andrews hopes to soon sell adult-use marijuana legally near his home.

The entrepreneur waited a decade to do so.

“I’m just – I’m on the edge of my seat,” Andrews said.

Andrews, 34, was one of four recipients from the Capital Region earlier this week to be granted cannabis retail licenses under the state’s adult conditional dispensary system, a program which allows industry players convicted of past marijuana-related offenses first on New York’s newly legal recreational pot. market.

The 2007 graduate of Schenectady High School was convicted of two marijuana-related offenses in the late 2000s.

“A lot of people have had their livelihoods ruined,” Andrews said. “And a lot of good people.”

Andrews launched a main store based in Scotland in 2013 (the trading name was later changed from Dabbcity to Vapedcity to avoid conflict with a Californian company of the same name) and later opened two CBD-focused outlets in Glenville and Schenectady.

For the cannabis enthusiast, his end goal was always to launch a dispensary at the right time. He has long traveled to marijuana conventions in pot-friendly states to study retail operations.

“What kept me here was knowing it was only a matter of time as other states came on board,” Andrews said.

The two-year-old legalized adult cannabis market is expected to expand by 2023 with more forward-looking regulations and unconditional licensing guidelines fleshed out by the state’s Office of Cannabis Management.

“I’ve been in the cannabis world, the cannabis industry for a while now and it was a big dream for me to own and operate a dispensary, especially in the town where I grew up” or anywhere in Schenectady County, Andrews said. .

Three of eight municipalities in Schenectady County have elected to opt out of adult-use potty sales in 2021, as permitted by state law. The county’s eponymous city plans to host retail spaces downtown for potential cannabis sales.

A Dormitory Authority of New York contractor has been scouting potential dispensary sites in downtown Schenectady, as well as parts of Saratoga County, two local business executives confirmed last week.

DASNY is responsible for securing locations built or subleased for CAURD grantees, publicly and privately funded through the $200 million Cannabis Social Investment Fund.

All regional licensee preferences will be accommodated, but more municipal and county specific site preferences are subject to availability and regulatory requirements. According to Empire State Development’s definition, the Capital Region consists of 11 counties.

“If they were to stick me somewhere else, that’s what it is,” Andrews said.

Andrews isn’t sure what’s next as he closes in on dispensary business. He is waiting for more information from the OCM.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy is also interested in the state regulators’ next move.

“I don’t have any insider information,” McCarthy said. “I’ll read your story tomorrow and get my daily briefing.”

At least one cannabis retail storefront is expected to open in the state by the end of the year. Approved retailers are also expected to make deliveries before 2023.

Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Authority, hopes future retailers will eventually bolster local municipal coffers. Pot sales are taxed at 3% for municipalities, 1% for counties, and 9% for the state.

Follow Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047, [email protected] or on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil

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