Four licenses granted in Capital Region for recreational pot

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The Office of Cannabis Management awarded four recreational dispensary licenses in the Capital Region this week.

The businesses will be some of the first to open a retail dispensary for recreational pot in New York. Thirty-six were selected from more than 900 applicants. A judge has temporarily blocked licenses in five areas of the state after legal challenges to the state’s selection process.

NewsChannel 13 spoke to one of the business owners, Matthew Robinson, who lives in Troy and was raised in downtown Albany. He said he was overjoyed to learn he had been chosen for a license, but he also feels pressure to flip the script for his community with his new cannabis venture, Essential Flowers.

Robinson owns Bold Mold Eliminators, just one of his construction businesses. He is no stranger to building a business from the ground up, working hundreds of hours a week to create his mold and lead abatement operations. 

It’s that business experience, along with two cannabis arrests as a teen, that qualified him to apply for a cannabis license. Under the social justice component of the new law, anyone who’s been prosecuted for a pot offense would get first crack at a dispensary license.

Robinson said he watched as many Black fathers in his community were imprisoned on cannabis-related charges, fracturing families.

“Most people that are impacted by cannabis and are incarcerated are fathers. So you’re taking fathers from their families, from their children, from their wives, sons from their mothers,” Robinson said.

He said this is an opportunity to right the wrongs that left many families broken.

“I’m starting to feel more tension, more pressure because it’s not just me. I’m representing my community. I’m a representation of Albany. So it’s very important that I make sure I do everything correct. There’s going to be kids that are going to be coming up and see me. I’m going to be some kid’s hero, my son’s hero,” he said.

Part of getting the dispensary license includes receiving state help in finding a suitable location for his new business. Robinson is still working on that, with help from The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), but says it will be located in the Capital Region.

“I’m going to make sure I give back. This is for us,” Robinson said.

A father of a young child himself, Robinson said he hopes to hold sports tournaments for local children, but also to help educate people about owning a home, business and other important knowledge he said can be a barrier to success for people in his community.