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Two New Weed Stores Are Coming; Some Folks Aren’t Happy

  Last modified on February 8th, 2024

One cannabis retailer plans to open at the site of a former cigar bar on East 73rd Street (Google Maps)

Two recently approved cannabis licensees presented their business plans to Community Board 8 this week. While both businesses emphasized the fact that they’d be operating legally, there were quite a few concerns from UES residents.

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The owners of Whitebox THC LLC will be doing business as Lenox Hill Cannabis Co. at 334 East 73rd Street, between First and Second avenues – the former home of cigar bar Casa De Montecristo. They’re planning on operating the retail cannabis dispensary on a daily basis from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and they’re hoping to be open by November. Visitors won’t be allowed to consume their products onsite, and while one of the owners told the board they won’t have an armed security guard, there will be someone managing the door. In addition, he said they’d have extensive security cameras and motion sensors.

While multiple meeting attendees voiced their concerns about safety – given the volume of sometimes violent robberies at smoke shops on the Upper East Side and throughout NYC – co-owner Wei Hu said that from his experience, licensed dispensaries don’t experience the same kind of crime that illegal smoke shops do.

Another partner, Michael Greenberg, helped the trio qualify as a justice applicant, as he’d previously been convicted of marijuana possession which he served one-and-a-half years for. One Upper East Sider raised the concern that if he had broken the law in the past, will he be keen on breaking the current laws?

Others at the meeting objected to the business existing on a mostly residential street, and while onsite consumption won’t be permitted, they fear that people will buy their weed and smoke it on the sidewalk.

Despite all the concerns, the committee ended up approving the application.

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Jak Eisakharian and Joshua Ahl are the owners of Weeds R Us Inc, and they’ll be doing business as Liberty Buds at 1115 First Avenue between 61st and 62nd streets. The pair are seasoned business owners and are hoping to be up and running by mid-October. Expected hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The partners described the customer purchasing process as a controlled, monitored experience with multiple ID checks and locked doors. They also stated that they won’t be allowing more than 10-25 customers inside at once.

They also plan to offer a delivery service which will be by foot and bicycle.

As kids, Jak and Joshua got arrested for having a small amount of weed, which allowed the business to qualify as a justice applicant as well.

Liberty Buds was approved by the board as well, with much less opposition. Perhaps this came as a result of a more polished presentation, a more robust business plan, and because they won’t be operating on a residential street. It may have also been that those who’d already voiced their concerns were tired.

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The news of these forthcoming smoke shops come as Council Member Julie Menin introduced legislation to “safeguard New Yorkers against dangers of unlicensed cannabis retailers,” which was heard before City Council on Wednesday.

“With thousands of smoke shops selling unlicensed cannabis products, Council Member Menin introduced Intro 995, a crucial piece of legislation aimed at creating a public awareness campaign to educate minors and young adults on the hazards of purchasing cannabis or cannabis products from unlicensed cannabis retailers,” her office wrote in a press release.

Menin had previously embarked on a crackdown which had led illegal smoke shops on the UES to face fines, a closing, and even an arrest.


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