New York State Cannabis Dispensary Showroom stops in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. After a long and litigious battle cannabis dispensary licenses have been issued in the Finger Lakes.

Friday, the New York State Dispensary Showroom stopped in Rochester. The showroom travels the state teaching new and potential licensees how to navigate the many laws regulating legal weed. Organizer Desmon Lewis says that they’re excited to be in Rochester in particular.

“Rochester is a community that, we would say, is a place that needs this,” he said. “It’s been harmed quite largely by the prohibition of cannabis. Communities like Rochester, similar to the Bronx, need this to bring jobs, to bring small business opportunities and generate wealth in our community.”

Attendees got to learn about running a compliant dispensary, straight from the experts. They learned about security needs, seed-to-sale tracking, and even the amount of cannabis someone can buy during a single trip to the store.

They also learned about branding laws as legal cannabis dispensaries are not allowed to prominently display brands that aren’t theirs. For example, RAW, a highly recognized brand for smoking accessories, will have to be displayed discreetly in a legal cannabis store. It can’t have its own section, full of raw products, with the labels outward.

To help walk attendees through the dos and don’ts, organizers had a demonstration showroom set up. The blocked-off area had fake display cases with real smoking products, demonstrating how pricing and branding must be displayed. The fake entrance to the store included informational signage explaining that hours must be visible and clear, and IDs must be checked at the door. There were also several informational sessions on business management.

“Everything from HR and payroll to technology point of sale, all the way through to security, and then inventory management,” Lewis explained.

The idea for a showroom came to make the theoretical feel a lot more practical, according to organizer Anne Forkutza. She works with Dutchie, a business that creates vendor software specifically for cannabis.

“A lot of the CAURD licensees and applicants had never been outside of New York State and been inside a licensed legal dispensary before,” she said.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and Sen. Jeremy Cooney — two massive advocates for legal cannabis in New York State — were among the attendees and speakers during the showroom tour.

When the tour is over, organizers said that due to the pronounced impact cannabis criminalization has had on Rochester, the showroom will be donated to Central Library.