Governor Hochul Announces Opening Of First Adult-Use Cannabis Retail Dispensary

March 24, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the opening of the first Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary location in Schenectady.

The first to open in the Capital Region. The opening of the store continues to advance New York State’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative and the State’s goals of equity in cannabis licensing, which prioritizes providing CAURD licenses to justice-involved individuals.

Justice-involved individuals are people with a cannabis conviction or a close relative of someone with one, and non-profits that support them.  

“We’re building an equitable adult-use cannabis market that provides a safer product for New Yorkers, while offsetting the harms caused by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” Governor Hochul said. “With this latest dispensary opening – the first in the Capital Region – we continue to advance our nation-leading industry and will continue to work towards achieving the aggressive goals embodied in the New York Cannabis Law.” 

The retail dispensary called “Upstate Canna Co.” – located at 1613 Union St. Schenectady, NY 12309 – will be owned and operated by experienced local entrepreneur Don Andrews and will open on April 1 at 11:00 A.M. and close at 9:00 P.M. Regular operating hours will be Monday-Friday 9:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M., Saturday 11:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M. and Sunday 11:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. For 10 years, Mr. Andrews has owned and operated retail storefronts specializing in smoking, vaping, cannabinoid hemp (e.g. CBD products) and accessories in Schenectady and Scotia.  

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Owner of Upstate Canna Co. Don Andrews said, “I have been a store owner and operator in Schenectady County for the past ten years. I am honored to be the first dispensary in the Capital Region to open its doors to the public and provide high-quality, laboratory-tested New York-produced adult-use cannabis products. Thank you to the OCM and Governor Hochul for rolling out this program — they have done an outstanding job and have been great to work with. We are very excited to be a part of the foundation of the growing cannabis community and industry in New York State

Chairwoman of the Cannabis Control Board Tremaine Wright said, “Opening the first dispensary in the Capital Region is a testament to our continued commitment to the growth of the Adult-Use Market here in New York. It is also an opportunity for this new retail store to contribute positively towards economic growth in Schenectady by creating jobs and generating revenue. We are confident that this dispensary will be a great asset to the community and we look forward to seeing its impact. 

Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management Chris Alexander said, “We are excited to be adding another dedicated retailer to the Adult-Use Market who is committed to providing quality products and services to all who choose to partake in the industry. With this new first addition to the Capital Region, we are thrilled that more people will have access to safe and reliable cannabis products in New York State

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 non-profit organizations whose services include support for the formerly incarcerated. These dispensaries are making legal adult-use sales with cannabis products grown by New York Farmers. 

To be eligible, applicants must either have a cannabis conviction themselves, or be a close family relative of someone who does, and owns or have owned a business that had a net profit for at least two years. Non-profits are 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. 

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