Empowering: Black Woman Pioneers New York’s Latest Weed Dispensary

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Empowering: Black Woman Pioneers New York’s Latest Weed Dispensary

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With the opening of the Good Grades cannabis dispensary in Queens, New York, many historic firsts were achieved. The shop, owned by cousins Michael James Jr. and Extasy James, is the first to open in Queens and the first woman-owned dispensary to receive financial support from the state’s social equity investment fund. The store’s first customer was Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who purchased gummies, and the grand opening was supported by the New York State Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, a public-private partnership providing renovated retail locations.

The opening of the dispensary has significant implications for the neighborhood of Jamaica, which has historically faced disproportionate cannabis criminalization, particularly in the 113th Precinct, a predominantly Black and Afro-Caribbean section. Racial disparities in marijuana arrests were also apparent within Queens neighborhoods, with Blacks and Latinos accounting for the majority of cannabis-related arrests in Flushing and Forest Hills.

In this article, we will discuss the significance of the Good Grades cannabis dispensary opening, the impact it will have on the local community, and the plans that the James cousins have for their family business.

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The Historic Firsts Achieved by the Good Grades Cannabis Dispensary

The Good Grades cannabis dispensary achieved many historic firsts with its opening. It is the first woman-owned dispensary to be financially supported by the state’s social equity investment fund and the first of six retail dispensaries to open in New York state. The opening of the dispensary was supported by the New York State Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, which provides renovated retail locations. The Good Grades dispensary opened first as a temporary pop-up to train employees and generate capital before closing for final construction and reopening for the long term.

The James Cousins: The Brains Behind the Good Grades Dispensary

Michael James Jr. is an attorney and legal advocate for minority business owners who helped his clients apply for the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license. However, because of other family members who have faced the criminal legal system, including Extasy James’ father, who was deported for a cannabis offense, Michael James decided to apply with his cousin. The Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license program was created to address those most affected by marijuana prohibition; only justice-involved people and their family members can apply.

Impact on the Local Community

The opening of the Good Grades dispensary has significant implications for the neighborhood of Jamaica, a largely African American and Latino community. The dispensary is located in the center of three police precincts and has historically faced disproportionate cannabis criminalization until recreational cannabis was legalized in 2021. The 113th Precinct, in particular, faced high levels of cannabis criminalization over the years compared to other New York City neighborhoods.

Extasy James observed families being broken up because of marijuana-related arrests while growing up in the Bronx and visiting family in Queens. Many families would sell cannabis on the side to make ends meet and would subsequently get in trouble, leading to deportations and broken homes. As a family business, the James cousins hope to give back to the community by educating consumers and partnering with local nonprofit groups to host giveaways and community drives.

Conclusion

The opening of the Good Grades cannabis dispensary in Queens, New York, marks a significant milestone in the state’s journey towards equitable cannabis legalization. The dispensary’s owners, Michael James Jr. and Extasy James, are committed to giving back to their community by educating consumers and partnering with local nonprofit groups. The dispensary’s opening presents a message of inspiration, not only for the James family but also for the community.

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