Women entrepreneurs apply for a Woodstock license to sell recreational marijuana

Erin Cadigan, Lisa Montanus and Eliza Kunkel. (Photos by Dion Ogust)

A A group of entrepreneurs and social justice advocates believe it is set to become Woodstock’s first recreational marijuana dispensary once the state opens license applications for such facilities.

“We want a dispensary that Woodstock can be proud of, and it’s a good neighbor and it helps the city. We just decided that to have it we had to do it ourselves, ”said Eliza Kunkel, who, along with Erin Cadigan and Lisa Montanus, hopes to open Illuminated Leaf at 33 Rock City Road. Each partner in the fully female-owned business has specific roles and for now, Kunkel will be in charge of social justice, fairness, operations and compliance.

“For me, I have long been kind of an advocate for marijuana in believing in legalization as well as the release of criminal charges and deregistration,” Cadigan said. “I haven’t been a cannabis user myself for probably my 20s, but I have worked in the elders market for over a decade. “It’s important, Cadigan added,” to keep this out of the reach of multi-state and multinational corporations who see it just as a way to make money… I like to think of what we do specifically as a kind. for-profit business. with a nonprofit heart. We have an extremely strong social equity plan, both what we plan to do with our hiring and compensation practices, as well as our return to the community.

“Our corporate percentage for philanthropy will start at 3% and hope to reach 5% by the fifth year. Included, of course, municipal taxes, which will be really great income for the town of Woodstock, ”said Cadigan, who is in charge of marketing and branding.

“I feel like we all think it’s important that we are locals and bring our own community connections into the business,” said Montanus, Director of Outreach and Education. community. “We all share the same values. We really want to contribute and give back to the community. And that excites me too. “

The dispensary will not be just a retail operation. A big emphasis will be placed on education.

“We will be offering workshops and information sessions for people to come and learn all about cannabis. What’s going on with the laws in New York State? Once we are open, what products will be available for people to consume? How can they consume the products? How to talk to your kids about cannabis, ”Montanus said. “We want to be transparent and provide enough information to people, so we will have external stakeholders. “

Illuminated Leaf will focus on standardization, Cadigan said.

Cadigan’s husband, Martin Mills, has been involved in reforming cannabis prohibition.

The interior of the illuminated sheet.

“Cannabis can do so much good for this country. Anyone, even people who have nothing to do with cannabis, could benefit from the financial aspect and tax revenue, ”Mills said. “I was working on the MRTA (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) to get it passed. And once that was done, I wanted to stay in the cannabis space. And that’s a great group of local Woodstock, citizens who all feel the same way, and they want this business to benefit the city as much as possible.

Montanus’ husband Jeff Collins got involved in legalizing marijuana five years ago because of the economic benefits of bringing more business to the state and helping farmers. “And we’re finally getting there. I think we can already see the beginnings of an economic boom, based on this plant, ”Collins said. “We have seen it with hemp. We have seen the number of companies around hemp increase, and I just wish we had had it sooner. I’ve been working on this for a long time and it’s frustrating for all of us, I think, how long it took to get a bill signed by the governor and how long it took to get the cannabis board approved ” , did he declare.

Collins praised Governor Kathy Hochul for the speed at which she worked. “The current governor has really got things done and is getting things done as fast as she can. And we appreciate that because she, I think, sees the value and isn’t afraid of it, ”Collins said. “It’s so important for the economy and for social justice. We have jailed people for decades around a stupid ban on a plant that should never have been banned. “

And so far, there is no pushback from the city. Each municipality must actively withdraw from dispensaries and salons by the end of the year or it is automatically chosen. To date, the municipal government has not signaled its intention to withdraw. It’s Woodstock after all, they said. “It would be like Chicago giving up the beef,” Collins said.

Federal ban poses challenges

Dispensaries across the country have been denied bank accounts and credit card processing services because marijuana is still banned by federal law. In many cases, this turns dispensaries into cash flow activities, posing logistical and security challenges. The illuminated leaf is no different. “It’s definitely a challenge. There are more opportunities than there were, but there are still very few opportunities, ”said Collins.

“Originally,” Cadigan said, “I was like, everything should be legal. It should be legal. It should be legal federally. Now, looking at the corporate vultures waiting behind the scenes, this is now part of my attention, that I would really like to see each state become legal, come up with its own ideas and freedoms for its citizens … That the federal government declassify, deprogramming marijuana would really be a great place to start, as it would eliminate a lot of those pressures, like federally operating banks and things like that without allowing the Philip Morris of the country to come in and take out all the little players. “

New York law considered to be the most progressive

Kunkel praised the state legislation. “That’s the great thing about the New York bill, how progressive the marijuana legalization law was and yes I don’t think we’d be trying to open a dispensary if New York didn’t had not passed such a progressive law, ”she said. noted.

Cadigan agreed. “They really did their due diligence, I think, looking at what happened to other states…[who] were like, it’s legal, but then… licensed 50 dispensaries by one company and vertical integration. New York State doesn’t allow any of that, ”she said. “New York State is promising that 50% of their licenses will go to social equity applicants, and they already have some sort of legislation on what that means. Are they women? Is it black or brown? Is it economical? Is this someone who has hurt or been punished for being involved in marijuana? They sort of cover all of those bases… and they also won’t license someone to grow, manufacture and then distribute, ”Cadigan said.

“I think they will have five types of licenses, agriculture, manufacturing, licensing, delivery and on-site consumption. And I think the only two out of five that could be married are retail and delivery. “

By only allowing dispensaries to apply for three licenses, they say it will prevent anyone from becoming the Starbucks of dispensaries.

Product selection is in progress

Application regulations are being developed by the Office of Cannabis Management, so product selection is an uncertainty.

“We plan to have a good variety of flower, edible, vape cartridges… We want to offer as many products as the market has, and we want to hit the prices for both value customers and premium customers. We kind of want to make that space available to anyone looking to use cannabis, ”Mills said.

“In terms of what product we will be transporting, it depends on who gets a license from New York State. Thus, producers and processors will obtain a license before dispensaries. We have already started to establish links and agreements with potential producers and we will continue to do so, ”said Kunkel.

Dispensaries can only purchase products within New York City. Marijuana cannot cross state borders due to federal regulations.

Not a meeting place for vagrants, teens and scoundrels

“There will be protocols on who can come into the store and how the process should work. I expect everyone who walks into the store to give their ID and we will need to collect that ID. We will work to match the ID with the actual box they are buying, “Collins said,” So we know if this is in the hands of a 12 year old, we don’t have it. sold every 12 years. old.”

By law, smoking is prohibited within a certain perimeter of a dispensary. Smoking will be permitted in the lounges, but Illuminated Lead will not apply for a lounge license.

“So this isn’t going to become the corner to hang out and smoke weed and find teenagers,” Cadigan said.

Mills said one of the benefits of this new industry is the technology available to help with safety and accountability.

“Everything is going to be coded for every person who buys it. If it ends up in the wrong hands, it should be very easily traced back to whoever bought it, ”Mills said.

The space will be open pending the application process

“One of the things that we think is important to do now, anticipating that we will become a licensed dispensary, is to help educate the consumer,” Mills said. “We also have art and vintage here so maybe we can cover some of our construction expenses and get people to come. We’re starting to import more cannabis-focused retail items, books, educational materials, CBD items, accessories, and that sort of thing.

The first event will take place on December 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Montanus moderating a roundtable on cannabis products in New York City.

Panelists will include Amy Hepworth of Hepworth Farms in Milton, who will discuss the products they plan to produce; and Martha McDermott, Cannabis Awareness Educator and Former Patient Relations Manager for Etain Medical Marijuana Products.

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