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Meet Roland Conner, the Ex-Cannabis Convict Who Now Owns The First Black-Owned Dispensary In NYC

Meet Roland Conner, the Ex-Cannabis Convict Who Now Owns The First Black-Owned Dispensary In NYC

Black people are making strides in this billion-dollar industry!

With dispensaries on the rise, Black people are making sure they're getting a piece of the billion-dollar pie! Consider Vanessa Jean-Baptiste, the owner of Legal Greens in Massachusetts, the first Black woman-owned cannabis dispensary on the East Coast. With 21 states that have already given recreational cannabis use the green light, we know the industry will only expand as more states jump on board. Some of these states, such as New York, are even going a step further by acknowledging the people who have suffered from previous laws and deciding to give them new opportunities, which creates room for people like Roland Conner.

In the 1990s, Connor was a teenager during the height of the War on Drugs. He was arrested on several occasions and faced many charges. New York City recently developed a program designed to serve justice to people like him: those who were convicted for cannabis-related crimes and could benefit from having their own cannabis business. Through this program, they’re generating equity in the cannabis industry and providing an “opportunity to open on a short-term basis to fast-track sales and start generating capital for their businesses.”


With the help of Bronx Cannabis Hub, Conner was able to apply for the program. Now he’s celebrating the opening of his shop, Smacked Village. “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," Connor told NBC New York.

Not only is Smacked Village the first Black-owned cannabis dispensary in NYC, but Conner is also now the first person with a cannabis conviction to own one.

“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," said Conner.

This is amazing! We hope more people of color are able to receive their justice in the same way. Congratulations!

Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo/ Smacked LLC