Dispensary owner speaks after seven licenses approved for Finger Lakes region

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After a long legal battle, the state approved licenses for seven cannabis dispensaries in the Finger Lakes region on Thursday.

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management approved a total of 36 licenses on Thursday for selling conditional adult-use cannabis. Here are which dispensaries got approved for the Finger Lakes:

  • MJ Dispensary
  • William J. Wheeler
  • Mach Enterprises LLC
  • Scott M General
  • High Points of Finger Lakes, LLC
  • Canna Life LLC
  • Northfield Consulting LLC

The owners of MJ Dispensary in Henrietta said they’re ecstatic about getting approved and are hoping to open by the end of the summer. Co-owner Ryan Martin has been eagerly waiting to move his operation forward.

“We had no idea how long injunction was going to take with the lawsuit,” he said. “Based on what we know, since we got the license today, we would’ve been licensed in November had that not happen, so it’s a little frustrating.”

But Thursday was good news for him and his wife, Myla.

“Just feeling very thankful, very thankful, very blessed to make it this far,” he said.

While it’s great news for those seven dispensaries in the Finger Lakes region, there are still many applicants who haven’t heard anything. That includes Jason and Brittni Tantalo’s business Flower City Dispensary.

“The morale is pretty low in the pool of applicants,” said Tantalo. “We’re kind of confused, trying to figure out the next step to take.”

In the meantime, Tantalo co-runs a coalition for these applicants to have a support system. He’s also running Flower City Hydroponics in Perinton. It’s a challenging journey, but Tantalo hopes it will be worth it in the end.

“Our community counts on us to deliver safe and regulated cannabis,” he said. “We’re going to be able to provide jobs, resources to the community, and in our initiatives, we’re going to give back. We’re going to be focusing on domestic violence shelters, giving back to women. My wife wants to hire women and minorities first.”

Tantalo said he believes there may be another round of applicants for approval in June. But, it’s unclear if he’s on the list.

Until several weeks ago, a lawsuit filed by a Michigan company blocked the state from issuing licenses in the Finger Lakes region. The lawsuit claimed that New York discriminated against out-of-state businesses by prioritizing dispensary licenses for people who have marijuana convictions within New York. The applicant’s first choice of a region was the Finger Lakes, thus the injunction was issued for this area.

Earlier in June, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management voted to settle with the Michigan company. The settlement includes issuing the Michigan company a license in the next round, not Thursday’s round.

Monroe, Orleans, Wayne, Livingston, Genesee, Wyoming, Ontario, Yates, and Seneca counties all fall under the Finger Lakes. The state’s Cannabis Control Board approved the licenses after voting in favor of them.

The state legalized the recreational use of cannabis in March 2021. The state issued 99 dispensary licenses in April but none were issued for the Finger Lakes region.

The CAURD coalition is co-hosting an event on Friday, where those interested in the legal market can learn more. They’re inviting the community out to ask questions, learn about dispensaries and sign up for training. The event will be from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rochester Public Library. You can reserve your free tickets and see a schedule here.

More about local people seeking to open dispensaries: