NEWS RELEASE – Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the first Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license in Upstate New York State owned by an entrepreneur previously criminalized by cannabis prohibition will open for sales to the public at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at 119-121 East State Street in Ithaca.
“With the opening of William Jane in Ithaca, we’re continuing to build an adult-use cannabis industry in our state that works to offset the harms caused by disproportionate arrests made during cannabis prohibition,” Governor Hochul said. “As more dispensaries like this open across New York State, consumers now have the option to buy legal, safer products while also reinvesting in their communities.”
The Ithaca dispensary, called William Jane, will be owned and operated by William Durham. A Brooklyn native who has spent most of his life in Binghamton, Mr. Durham is stepping into New York’s cannabis market with a variety of experience in retail, construction, and property investment.
The location is supported by the New York State Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund and will open as “pop-up.” As with some other initial dispensaries to be supported by the Fund, this will provide licensees the opportunity to open on a short-term basis to fast-track sales and start generating capital for their businesses, after which they will close for final construction and then re-open on a long-term basis.
The pop-up program is designed to give the operator initial training opportunities before opening full-time. It will benefit all businesses involved in the cannabis supply chain, from farmers who have cannabis ready for distribution, to processors who are making cannabis into other types of products. Distributors and retail operators work from there to provide for consumers who are seeking access to safer products they can trust. The dispensary opening helps advance New York’s goals of equity in cannabis licensing that prioritizes providing licenses to justice-impacted individuals, who are people with a cannabis conviction or a close relative of someone with one.
DASNY President and CEO Reuben McDaniel III said, “This important milestone demonstrates New York’s commitment to create new and unique opportunities for intergenerational wealth in Black and Brown communities throughout New York, and to address deeply embedded historical injustices. I’m grateful for Governor Hochul’s leadership, the extraordinary support this program has had from the Legislature, and work of the Fund’s leadership, all of whom have helped us continue our progress on this important initiative.”
William Jane Owner William Durham said, “I’m excited to be one of the first cannabis businesses opening in upstate New York. I never imagined I’d be able to start a business like this, and I’m grateful to New York State for creating this opportunity to grow a business here. This is a blessing that will help me create opportunities for others in the future.”
State Senator Lea Webb said, “This is a proud day for the City of Ithaca and the Southern Tier. As we welcome the first dispensary in Upstate New York with a license supported by the Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund. I want to offer a warm welcome and a heartfelt congratulations to William Durham for this important milestone. This is an exciting moment as our growing cannabis industry invests in our communities by providing economic opportunities for agricultural partners and folks who have been disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of cannabis.”
Assemblymember Anna Kelles said, “I appreciate Gov. Hochul’s commitment and investment in supporting entrepreneurs and business development for people who were previously criminalized by cannabis use. The ‘William Jane’ dispensary represents one step in helping correct past inequities of cannabis policing and incarceration, while also providing a market for local farmers growing cannabis. Local production and sales can help ensure transparency and product quality, keeping the product safe for adults who choose to use it for medicinal or recreational use.”
Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman Shawna M. Black said,“Tompkins County has been patiently waiting for the announcement of our first adult-use retail cannabis dispensary. We are equally excited that William Jane is committed to social justice initiatives and empowering those that have been historically targeted by the criminalization of marijuana.”
Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis said, “Thank you for working with our community on this first licensed dispensary in the City of Ithaca. We are excited to be among the early adopters of this new driver for equitable economic development. We also appreciate the commitment of New York State to promote an inclusive approach to the regulated cannabis industry and to ensure the safety of consumers and the opportunity for local business owners.”
Cannabis Control Board Chairwoman Tremaine Wright said, “We are excited to see the cannabis market expand into new territory. These stores will provide more New Yorkers with a safe, reliable and convenient way to purchase cannabis products while also creating jobs and boosting these local economies. The opening of these stores marks an important milestone for New York as we continue to grow our market.”
Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “The opening of more legal cannabis stores in the state is a thrilling opportunity to celebrate the growing diversity of New York’s Cannabis Industry. We are proud to be part of this momentous occasion and look forward to growing the number of locations where New Yorkers can access cannabis products safely and invest in their communities.”
William Thompson, Principal of the Fund’s General Partner Social Equity Impact Ventures said, “New York’s first of its kind cannabis Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) was specifically put in place to effectuate the evaluation of thousands of locations both upstate and downstate; negotiate, manage and enter into the leases with each landlord; directing the design-build process, while establishing training and operations programs to assist the store operators when their business opens. It’s a big and varied portfolio, but these are the steps necessary to help set up licensees for market success.”
The Ithaca location is part of the program authorized by Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature and sponsored by the Fund to support the acquisition, design, construction, and outfitting of locations for cannabis dispensaries to be operated by CAURD licensees. Working with Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) subsidiary, the Social Equity Servicing Corporation (SESC), the Fund is a public-private limited partnership formed to position social equity entrepreneurs to succeed in New York’s newly created adult use cannabis industry. Managed by Social Equity Impact Ventures, the Fund will help justice involved individual CAURD licensees meet the costs of establishing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries. It is supported by up to $50 million in licensing fees and revenue from the adult-use cannabis industry and up to $150 million from the private sector.
The CAURD license is a central pillar of the New York State Seeding Opportunity Initiative. Through the Initiative, New York’s first legal adult-use retail dispensaries will be operated by those most impacted by the enforcement of the prohibition of cannabis or nonprofit organizations whose services include support for the formerly incarcerated. These dispensaries are making legal adult-use sales with cannabis products grown by farmers across New York State.
Eligible applicants are those who either had a cannabis conviction themselves or a close family member of someone who does, own, or has owned a business that had a net profit for at least two years. Nonprofits were eligible for CAURD licenses if they have a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals, including creating vocational opportunities for them; have at least one justice-involved board member; at least five full-time employees; and have operated a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two years.