First Black Woman-Owned Dispensary Opens in Manhattan

Bliss + Lex is a Black woman-owned cannabis dispensary in Manhattan and its team says it’s the first dispensary of its kind to do so in a March 20 announcement. Licensed adult-use cannabis businesses are beginning to appear in New York City as they compete with unlicensed businesses. 

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pull up our own seat at the table in the cannabis industry. As entrepreneurs, we have a chance to create a legacy, change the trajectory of our family’s future and give back to the community in new ways,” said Nicole Lucien, co-Founder and CEO of Bliss + Lex, who is opening the dispensary with her husband, Christopher Lucien. “As a former New York City public school educator, my life has been dedicated to family and community, our careers in service, and now we are proud to share our passion for the plant.”

It is Manhattan’s first Black woman-owned dispensary and a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensee. Bliss + Lex is the second retailer to open in collaboration with the Housing Works CAURD Community Initiative, which provides critical support for New York social-equity cannabis entrepreneurs.

The New York Cannabis Control Board (CCB) met on Feb. 16 and voted on a few new cannabis draft rules, including cultivation and research, and also announced the first round of adult-use licenses. The CCB approved a total of 109 licenses for the state, with 38 licenses that are retail-specific, and 26 that are microbusiness licenses. 

Currently, the only cannabis business license holders in the state were approved under the CAURD program, which were granted specifically to social equity applicants. While those business owners hold conditional licenses, the CCB’s most recent round of licenses are the first non-conditional licenses to be granted, meaning that they did not qualify as social equity applicants.

They benefited from a New York state program that prioritizes giving people with criminal histories the first retail licenses to sell cannabis in the state, as Nicole’s husband has a prior conviction.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think a cannabis conviction, that until now has created a barrier to jobs, housing, and acceptance, would be the key to this door of opportunity for myself and my family,” said Christopher Lucien, co-founder and COO. “I’ve always been driven to support the underdog in my work in nonprofits serving the homeless, and becoming a business owner is an invigorating way to help my community.”

“Housing Works is honored to work alongside and support the opening of Manhattan’s first Black woman-owned dispensary, Bliss + Lex, through our CAURD Community initiative,” said Sasha Nutgent, Director of Retail at Housing Works Cannabis Co. “This opening marks a big step forward in our efforts to build an equitable market here in New York. Nicole and Christopher represent exactly what NY’s adult-use market needs more of–mission-focused and dedicated to educating and building a fostering community–and we look forward to seeing and aiding the team’s success however they need.”

Nicole is the first Black woman in Manhattan to be awarded a coveted license to open a cannabis dispensary.

Her husband, also on the license, has a prior drug conviction. They benefited from a New York state program that prioritizes giving those with criminal histories the first retail licenses to sell marijuana.

Christopher Lucien, owner, said, “I have tried to start several businesses like my wife was saying home improvement construction, and because of my criminal background I was denied, even after 20 some odd years of a clean record there was never a chance where I had a second chance this was always been held against me.”

CCB chair Tremaine Wright spoke at a recent meeting, expressing his relief that the time has come to move forward with New York’s cannabis industry, beginning with social equity applicants. “This moment has been a long time in the making,” said Wright. “We assure you it only represents the beginning. The office has been diligently working to prepare as many applications as possible for consideration, and the board will continue to approve additional licenses at future board meetings.” He added that the CCB’s goal is to “tackle a number of the matters that we hope will help propel our industry forward.”

The 2,603 square-foot retail store aims to provide highly-individualized consumer experiences including, on-the-go ordering to inclusive, step-by-step walk-through education. Bliss + Lex will carry a range of cannabis products from brands such as Off Hours, 1906, TYSON 2.0, and more. You can visit the retail store located at 128 East 86th St. with close subway access, and it is open seven days a week.  

The post First Black Woman-Owned Dispensary Opens in Manhattan appeared first on High Times.


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