Dispensary-License Hopeful Green Street Hopes to get Green Light in Ithaca

Ithaca native Shannon Divers. Photo by Michael Nocella

by Michael Nocella

As New York State continues to venture into the world of legalized adult-use cannabis, Finger Lakes entrepreneurs are chomping at the bit for official regulations to be passed. Until then, some are doing everything they can to be first in line to apply for their license.

Ithaca native Shannon Divers, with the help of her husband Reuben Kamp, is positioning herself to be among the first – if not THE first – licensed retail dispensary owner in Ithaca. A New York State license will give her the legal authorization she needs to acquire and possess cannabis for the purpose of selling and delivering it to cannabis consumers. 

The couple has spent the last six-plus months doing everything they can to stay ahead of the ever-evolving legalized cannabis game, and if things go as planned, Divers will operate Green Street at 109 South Fulton Street. 

“Everything is obviously a work in progress until the regulations are officially passed,” Divers said. “When we started the process, our first step was looking at locations, because location will be such a huge part of our success. We considered Collegetown, but we thought the location would be inaccessible to many locals.”

“We settled on this place on the West End of Ithaca,” she continued. “There’s not much there; a lot of businesses closed recently, but we think that could be perfect. There’s an open space next door to ours that would allow for expansion down the line, and there’s a good amount of parking for customers.”

The landlord, a longtime family friend, is giving them some flexibility pending the release of the license regulations. “He’s allowing us to sign a lease that’s contingent on the regulations getting passed, and contingent on the property meeting those regulations,” Kamp explained.

“We’ve done a bit of research in places that have already gone through this process,” Divers added, “and we’ve read and heard that if you have a location site already when you apply, it gives you a huge step up. It shows you have a certain level of commitment and stability. We think this will be a big plus for our application.”

Divers emphasized that her business vision and model will be centered around wellness, offering whole-flower marijuana, pre-rolled joints, edibles, hemp cream, and more. “I’m really interested in marijuana from a wellness standpoint,” Divers said. “I want to steer clear of the ‘stoner’ image – that’s not our target audience.

“I want to focus on creating a bright, open space that has great energy,” she added. “I work out all the time, and studies done in recent years point to the many ways marijuana can help with recovery. That’s the angle we’re opening Green Street with.”

Divers’ wellness-centric business approach will include a social equity-supporting component. Green Street is finalizing a partnership with the Unbroken Promise Initiative, a grassroots neighborhood revitalization and racial justice 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to uplifting Ithaca’s West End community. Kamp grew up with the group’s founder, Jordan Clemons, and the two have been hammering out the terms of their partnership. Divers and Kamp are determining what percentage of Green Street’s profits will ultimately go to Unbroken Promise, while Clemons is mapping out the causes that the donation will support.  

Kamp believes that the legislation was designed, in part to help African American and Latino communities. “This law is really trying to uplift,” he says. “Jordan is obviously invested in the social justice scene, and does so much for it here in Ithaca. His mission in life is to help redevelop Ithaca’s West End. We didn’t pick the West End location because of that, but it’s a nice fit.”

As for next steps, Divers and Kamp are finalizing their logo and branding. They’re also close to signing their lease. They continue researching possible architects and contractors, plus banks and investors, depending on how much of a financial undertaking Green Street ends up being.

Whatever that number is, they are confident it will be a worthwhile effort, not only for themselves but for the Ithaca community. 

“I think the marijuana industry in Ithaca is going to be huge, and Green Street will be a great fit,” Divers said. “It won’t be about, ‘I’m doing drugs to do drugs’ because Ithaca is all about wellness. There are yoga centers everywhere! Everyone enjoys being outside! The dispensary will match that culture perfectly.”

“We’re ahead of the game and we want this,” Kamp added. “We’re going to be ready to apply, and then we’ll have until October 1 of next year to sell something. It’s a lot of time, but it’s not a lot of time.”

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