Roland Conner is celebrating many firsts!
On Jan. 24, Conner, alongside his wife and son, held the opening of Smacked Village, the first Black-owned cannabis store in New York City. This follows just under two years after the state’s decision to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
“I am so excited to become a part of history as the first individual to open a legal cannabis dispensary in New York City. Given my experience with cannabis, I never could have imagined that I would be opening a store like this,” Conner said in a statement, according to NBC New York.
View this post on Instagram
The opening of the storefront also holds another story for Conner.
During the late 1990s, Conner found himself facing various convictions, and he was arrested several times, The New York Times reports. He was just a teenager at this time, and he had faced the harsh realities of the War on Drugs.
Now, over three decades later, he is also the first person with a cannabis conviction to open a cannabis dispensary in New York City. This also marks the second cannabis dispensary to open shop in New York City.
The milestone was made possible through a statewide initiative that prioritizes minorities who have cannabis-related convictions by providing them a retail license to jumpstart their business.
“This is not just about me and my family. This is about everyone who was harmed by the draconian drug laws of the past. New York’s commitment to righting those wrongs through the law is inspiring. I am proof of that commitment because I’m standing here today,” Conner explained, according to NBC New York.
New York will continue to support the newest dispensary through a Pop-up program.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, “this will provide licensees the opportunity to open on a short-term basis to fast-track sales and start generating capital for their businesses, after which they will close for final construction and then re-open on a long-term basis.”