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Ex-Inmates Roll Out NYC’s Latest Dispensary

Ex-cons turned cannabis entrepreneurs bring first legal weed to Lower East Side.

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“Our aim is to establish a social equity framework for our nation’s cannabis industry,” said CONBUD CCO Alfredo Angueira. PHOTO COURTESY CONBUD @ FACEBOOK

CONBUD, a dispensary operated by formerly incarcerated individuals, marked its grand opening in New York City last Thursday. As the sixth licensed cannabis retailer in the city and the only (legal) dispensary on the Lower East Side, CONBUD says it is on a mission to provide quality cannabis and create opportunities for those impacted by the justice system in New York State.

CEO Coss Marte, who faced his first arrest at 13 years old in the Lower East Side, a neighborhood deeply affected by the War on Drugs, describes CONBUD as “a symbol of hope and progress.” The area is one of seven in New York that have disproportionately contributed to the state’s prison population over several decades, states a press release.

Designed by Chad Smith of Smith & Architects, the 2500 sq. ft. space of CONBUD is filled with symbolism. The interiors feature a green color scheme, referencing New York State’s prison uniforms, and architectural elements subtly recalling incarceration. The dispensary displays a diverse range of cannabis brands, including those owned by legacy, queer, BIPOC, and veterans, against shelves shaped like bent prison bars. At checkout, customers are met with an inscription of the 13th Amendment, underscoring CONBUD’s dedication to social justice and community support.

“When consumers enter CONBUD, they aren’t just showing up for cannabis; they’re showing up for justice,” said CONBUD supporter Michael Blake, a former New York Assembly Member and former Democratic National Committee Chair.

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