Amid a swathe of illicit smoke shops, the Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective has opened on W40th Street to bring a direct (and legal) link between cannabis growers and consumers in the neighborhood.
New York State’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has approved Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective as a Cannabis Growers Showcase. The farmers market at 356 W40th Street, between 8/9th Avenues, presents nine local New York State farmers alongside three processors. The shop sells raw products as well as a wide variety of packaged goods including vapes, edibles, pre-rolls, gummies and infused beverages — with bud tenders on hand to break down all the products and describe the farms.
“Everyone who’s walked in, they’ve gotten what I would say is the most boutique and personalized cannabis retail experience available in the city,” said Patrick Conlin, General Manager at Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective. “The kind of products we’re selling encompass the entire range of cannabis products on the market — we have everything. If you’re new to cannabis, I always say start smaller than you think. You can always have more.”
The legal cannabis business in New York is complicated, with shops few and far between due to a slow licensing process, and cannabis farmers are very limited in who they can sell to. The Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective is a pop-up retail enterprise, organized by Greenleaf Cannabis in collaboration with Legacy Dispensers and The Dope Connection.
“The farmers are incredibly financially distressed,” said Patrick. “So our model is geared more toward assisting them. We want to see them succeed, grow and benefit from this.”
The farms showcasing and selling produce at Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective are Ravens View Genetics, Animal House, MB Farm Cannabis, Revert Cannabis, Flower House, Slack Hollow Organics, Claudine Farms, and Ithaca Organics Cannabis.
Due to the regulations and the slow licensing process, unlicensed cannabis shops are much more common across the city and have raised safety concerns due to their unregulated products. In August, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal joined the fight against unauthorized cannabis shops — and called for a “hands-on approach” involving the Hell’s Kitchen community and for the OCM “to act quickly and aggressively to shut down these unlicensed stores.”
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“On this block alone, there are about six unlicensed stores, and they are not subject to any of the restrictions that we are forced to follow,” said Patrick.
“I want everyone to understand that it’s really unsafe. They are people exploiting New Yorkers and extracting wealth from New Yorkers and compromising their health, because the worst products from other states are coming into New York,” said Patrick. “It’s stuff that either failed testing or was so poorly grown that no one bought it and it sat around for years. If you’re proud to be a New Yorker, I would not be proud of shopping at one of those.”
He added: “It’s farm to table. It’s what I’m all about. We put New York wines on the menu 15 years ago and people laughed at us. Now New York’s nationally renowned for having specific wine regions and they’re becoming a player in the wine industry. I think that cannabis has every chance [to do the same] — the potential is there. It’s just about how the market develops and how the advocacy plays out with it.”
Hell’s Kitchen Cannabis Collective is open from 9am to 9pm every day — except for Wednesdays, September 27, October 11 & 25, November 8 & 22 and December 6 & 20, due to regulations that prevent the market from being open for more than 14 consecutive days. Its first Farmers’ Day is this Sunday, October 1, from 1pm-6pm, offering the chance to meet the farmers, put faces to the brand names, and gain insight into legal cannabis in NY.