With any luck, business partners Mark Byasse and Tim Hay will be transforming their historic building – a former depot in the New York Central Railroad system – into a full-service cannabis dispensary in Victor, right off route 444. Finger Lakes Cannabis Co. will sell whole flower, concentrates, edibles, tinctures and topicals, plus cannabis accessories, branded merchandise, and locally produced and sourced arts and crafts.
But until New York State writes and releases the regulations governing dispensary operation – not to mention a draft of its dispensary licensing application – the two can only go so far with their plans. There’s no guarantee that they will receive one of the highly-sought-after licenses, even though they feel their chances are pretty good. And so they wait. And hope.
“Our biggest challenge has been to remain patient and energized, given that the process with the state is moving much slower than we anticipated,” explained Mark in a recent interview.
“I must say that our local leaders, including the Victor Community Development Office, have been very helpful and encouraging, and we’re very grateful for that,” he added. “The community as a whole has been extremely supportive of what we’re doing. We constantly run into people who wish us well and ask how soon we can open.”
For the time being, Mark and Tim are using their beautiful and open space with beautiful cathedral ceilings for yoga classes and special events, like an invitation-only Cannabis in the Finger Lakes networking event on April 20. Hosted by FLX420 Magazine to coincide with the magazine’s launch, it will feature guest speakers, vendors with tabletop displays, and light refreshments.
“We continuously look for creative, fun ways to use our unique space to bring people together,” said Mark. “For instance, it’s become a pop-up gallery of sorts that features artwork by local artists. The public can visit during yoga classes and by appointment. And soon, we’ll be opening a gift shop, Terrapin Depot, in a separate storefront in our building.”
The atmosphere surrounding cannabis business hopefuls in the Finger Lakes contains a good mix of excitement, anticipation, uncertainty and frustration, he says. “Everyone wants to know what the Office of Cannabis Management is going to do to shape the New York market, and see some solid timelines and regulatory requirements. So far, we’ve experienced nothing but cooperation among other business hopefuls. We all feel like a strong cooperative industry will only benefit all of us.”
One exception, he said, has been the “pop-up gifting market,” in which operators give away marijuana as a promotion to shoppers who purchase an overpriced T-shirt or lighter. “The practice was clearly illegal, and those of us who were starting our cannabis businesses the right way were frustrated by it,” said Mark. “Fortunately, those operators are receiving cease-and-desist letters now. We’re happy to see that action is being taken.”
The full story behind Finger Lakes Cannabis Company is one of many featured that will be featured in the first issue of FLX420 Magazine. Among them are an introduction to setting up a grow space; an interview with Alan Gandleman, founder of New York State’s largest cannabis trade association; an overview of cannabis tourism potential in the Finger Lakes, and more. To subscribe to the magazine, visit flx420.com.