White Plains carefully welcomes New York's legal cannabis industry

On Wednesday, Eyasser Noboa and Jesus Fontanez opened the doors to Cannabis Realm, a recreational marijuana store on the outskirts of the city along Central Avenue.

Jonathan Gordon

Apr 18, 2024, 12:08 AM

Updated 42 days ago

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The city of White Plains will be home to three state-certified legal recreational marijuana businesses by the end of the week.
It's a venture Mayor Thomas Roach is willing to take.
Three-percent of all revenue goes back to White Plains.
"It offers something for the residents who want to partake, and it offers revenue and one thing that we are focused on in this city is generating revenue that doesn't come from the property tax," he said.
Roach understands the presence of the emerging industry is not for everyone but feels it's much worse for the city to miss out on this opportunity to continue growing with the times.
Besides the financial side of things, he believes the emergence of the legal marijuana market will slowly push out what has long been a thorn in the sides of mayors across the state -- illegal smoke shops.
"As these new legal shops go online, you're going to see the illegal start to fade," Roach said.
On Wednesday, Eyasser Noboa and Jesus Fontanez opened the doors to Cannabis Realm, a recreational marijuana store on the outskirts of the city along Central Avenue.
"I'm in disbelief. I still can't believe that this opportunity has been given to us," Nodoa said.
The pair were among the first in the Mid-Hudson region to receive a license to sell recreational marijuana from the state last June. It took nearly a year to get the business off the ground after the state had to pause the licensing rollout twice due to ongoing lawsuits.
"We accepted the process; we did what we had to do and we're here," Fontanez said.
Noboa and Fontanez were eligible for the first round of licenses after being arrested when they were younger for selling marijuana on the streets of New York City to make ends meet. Long beyond that time in their lives, they're hoping to change the image around marijuana.
"We took a negative to a positive and hopefully we can be role models for other people," Fontanez said.
The outside of Cannabis Realm is not too flashy. A security guard greets each customer at the door to check IDs and direct them to salespeople called "bud-tenders."
Jonathan Cruz, who first started smoking marijuana to alleviate pain from diabetes, is one of them.
"All the black market weed that's out there is hurting people, so this is a place where you can get a safe product where it's third-party tested and you know where you're getting it from," Cruz said.
Cruz talks with each customer to better understand what product they're looking for, the effects they're hoping to get from it and what they're willing to spend.
All of the products sold come from state-grown cannabis and verified through a third party.
In March, Etain Health opened a recreational and medical location in White Plains after moving its medical-only dispensary from Yonkers. On Friday, April 19, Leafology, will cut a ribbon at its location across from City Hall.
Roach said the state has approved a fourth store for the city of White Plains. That business is finalizing its location plans now.


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