A group of budding business people made their pitches to members of Community Board 8’s street life committee on Monday, all hoping to get preliminary approval to open up cannabis shops on the Upper East Side.
The meeting, which came after a similar one held by Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side, was dominated by vigorous debate. Issues discussed included how far the shops should be from schools, the proliferation of illegal smoke shops, and the dangers of cannabis itself.
Legally, shops have to be at least 500 feet from schools. However, some on the board, such as Valerie Mason, argued that it wasn’t far enough. Mason vowed “not to support any application within 1,200 feet of a school, let alone 500.”
Some, like Barbara Rudder, argued there was nothing to be done, and legal shops should be supported. “It’s there; I mean, your children are exposed to these illegal shops that are very very alluring…I would rather have the legal shops,” she said.
Others like Robin Seligson rejected that premise, making the case that one would not impact the other. “I think the illegal ones are gonna try and go into business…and keep selling illegally whether or not we approve legal ones.”
And some, like Lori Bores, wanted to move forward regardless. “I think that alcohol is much more dangerous than cannabis…Let’s get this established and going,” she said. “Let’s start collecting taxes.”
There were 23 prospective head shops on the docket, though only nine were voted on. The rest were layovers held for future consideration or applications that had been withdrawn.
Here are the businesses and locations which were not approved:
- Cloud 69 Convenience Store Inc, 1317 Second Avenue (between 69th and 70th streets)
- New York THC Company, 128 East 86th Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)
- Encore Retailer XXVI LLC., 307 East 60th Street (between First and Second Avenues)
- Entity to be formed, 1022 Lexington Avenue (between East 72nd and East 73rd Streets)
The votes were split evenly for these two applicants:
- My Way Convenience Smoke Shop Inc, 1594 Third Avenue (between 89th and 90th streets)
- Verde NYC LLC. dba Mama Verde, 1276 Lexington Avenue (between 85th and 86th streets)
And these three applicants were approved:
- The Hootch, dba TBD, 1662 First Avenue (between 86th and 87th streets)**
- Wall Street Canna Holdings LLC., 802 Lexington Avenue (between 61st and 62nd streets)
- EHCNYC Holding LLC., 1308 Second Avenue (between 68th and 69th streets)
It’s important to note that although they will be a factor in the final decision, these votes are only recommendations. The final call will ultimately be made by the Cannabis Control Board.
**Several board members pointed out that 1662 First Avenue was the address of Sweetooth, a THC bakery which was slapped with multiple violations and shut down earlier this year, while the owner was arrested on possession charges. The applicant behind ‘The Hootch,’ Connie Rannochia, confirmed with CB8 that she has nothing to do with that business or its owner and has leased the space herself.