A New Legal Cannabis Dispensary Wants to Open On Upper East Side

If the new backers are successful, it would mark the first legal weed shop in Manhattan that is north of 14th Street and the second one that will be owned entirely by women.

| 31 Mar 2023 | 04:28

The Upper East Side may be getting its very own legal cannabis shop soon.

Representatives from potential new business Mama Verde presented at a Community Board 8 meeting on March 15th. The store will be owned by two Latina mothers, Christina Arez and Krystel Bloomfield.

The store owners have been exploring locations around 86th and Lexington, as reported by East Side Feed, though nothing has been settled on yet.

While a few legal dispensaries have already received licenses and opened in New York, thus far they are all in the Union Square area or downtown. Mama Verde, if it opens, would be the Upper East Side’s first. It would also be the first all women owned shop in Manhattan and the second in the city following the opening of a pop store in Queens days ago that is also run by two women.

While there are only four legal cannabis shops in the city thus far, there are said to be over 1,400 unlicensed shops. So far the main city agency that has been cracking down on them is the City sheriff’s department, but as Sheriff Anthony Miranda told a city council hearing on Jan. 18, his agency, with its current manpower shortages only conducts raids once a week and then due to the voluminous cataloging required on seized material they can only conduct two or three raids.

City Councilwoman Gale Brewer complained that at that rate, it would take seven or eight years to crack down on all the illegal shops. The NYPD generally only gets involved with the weed shops when they are victims of a crime, since possession of marijuana is no longer a crime.

Frequently, after the sheriff’s department shuts down an unlicensed shop, the store is restocked and reopened within days.

Area residents across the city complain that weed shops have become magnets for crime, with perpetrators stealing both product and cash. The stores generally are open late at night and because credit cards can’t be used for cannabis purchases due it still being a controlled substance at the federal level there is usual an inordinate amount of cash. Thieves are attracted as much to the product as they are to the cash.

Arez tried to quell local concerns in his appearance before the community board in which she insisted that her store would be more subdued without product visible to the casual passerby.

“Our main priority is keeping our children safe while bringing something fun and clean and responsible to the community,” Arez reportedly said. “I know that illicit markets have been opening up and without any knowledge of the products they are selling, who they’re selling it to, and we want to be responsible stewards of this type of product in your neighborhood.”

Mama Verde also told Community Board 8 that it had not yet secured a lease for their proposed shop. They had not returned calls to Our Town for any update on their quest for a lease since the community board session.

“Our main priority is keeping our children safe while bringing something fun and clean and responsible to the community.” Christina Arez, who wants to open the Upper East Side’s first legal cannabis shop.