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New legal cannabis dispensary opens its doors on Steinway Street

Photo: Peter Fokas/Ovono Agency

Feb. 21, 2024 By Seán Ó Briain

A new legal cannabis dispensary has opened its doors on Steinway Street featuring an extensive array of over 400 products and is actively engaging in a wide range of social campaigns.

Cannavita, located at 30-30 Steinway St., celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 17 after a soft opening earlier in the month, becoming the 52nd legal cannabis dispensary in New York State.
The store offers a wide range of products, including oils, gummies, cannabis-infused sodas, vapes, pre-rolls, and a variety of flowers grown locally in New York.

Cannavita has also partnered with a number of social justice initiatives, including Her Highness and the Last Prisoner Project, two groups seeking to support women who have been imprisoned for cannabis-related offenses.

The store is selling pre-rolled CBD joints in aid of the initiative, with half of the proceeds of each sale going to the cause.

Allie Carney, general manager at the newly-opened store, said Cannavita is also seeking to support women-owned businesses and initiatives, pointing to the store’s partnership with Upstate Mary, which sells a selection of intimacy and arousal oils.

She said the store is aiming to encourage women to enjoy pleasure and vices – “two spaces that have been historically cruel to women”.

“We want to really lean into our empowerment, give ourselves the pleasure and the joy and the giggles and laughter and fun that we deserve,” Carney said at Saturday’s grand opening.

Cannavita is the third legal dispensary to open in Astoria and Carney believes that legal dispensaries are essential to the safe use of cannabis.

She said there are as many as 12 illegal dispensaries operating in the area and added that Cannavita offers a safe alternative, imposing ID checks and ensuring that the store’s interior can’t be seen from the street.

“You can’t get into a legal store without getting your ID scanned and walking past a security guard. We’re not supposed to be showing our product from the street. There are so many things we put in place to make sure that minors do not get their hands on cannabis,” Carney said.

Store owner Marko Popovic, a Serbian national, added that illegal dispensaries are a “real problem” in Astoria.

Owner Marko Popovic (left) with friends. Photo: Peter Fokas/Ovono Agency

“They’re selling a lot of cannabis products to people who are younger than 21. The community is very worried about that,” Popovic said.

Popovic obtained his Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license from New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) last April through his partner, who was arrested on cannabis-related offenses before it was legalized in New York State in March 2021.

CAURD licensees are the first retail dispensaries to open for legal adult-use cannabis in New York State, establishing businesses owned by justice-involved individuals who have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense in New York prior to March 31, 2021.

Popovic, who qualifies for the license through his partner’s conviction, added that the legalization of cannabis has been a “beautiful thing for New York”, stating that legal dispensaries help to improve the regulation of cannabis.

He has spent the past 10 months renovating the former Sprint Mobile store at 30-30 Steinway St. into Astoria’s latest legal dispensary, which employs 14 full-time staff in the large retail space.

Meanwhile, Carney said the new store has something for everyone, regardless of their level of experience with cannabis.

Photo: Peter Fokas/Ovono Agency

“Cannabis newbies should go right for the sodas,” Carney said. “They can self-dose. They can take a couple sips.

“If you drink it in 10 minutes, you’re going to feel one way. If you drink it in 30, you’ll feel another. So, it’s really up to that person to have full control.”

Carney said Cannavita’s cannabis flowers have been the most popular sellers since the store launched its soft-opening earlier in February.

“We’re in New York City, a city that doesn’t sleep, so our sativa heavy strains are really flying off our shelves.

“We’ve got wonderful New York flower represented here. We’re looking at getting even more,” Carney added. “However, there really is something here for everyone.”

Carney hopes to make Cannavita a community-driven store, adding that she hopes to open up the space to community events.

“This is a beautiful space, Carney said. “We would like the community to utilize it in whatever way possible.”

Cannavita is the second legal dispensary to open in Astoria after Terp Bros, owned by Jeremy Riveira, opened at 36-10 Ditmars Blvd. in October last year following a two-month legal battle.

Photo: Seán Ó Briain

Carney said Cannavita “fully supports and champions” Riveira and Terp Bros, adding that she looks forward to working with the Ditmars Boulevard store to promote the legal sale of cannabis.

“Other than Terp Bros, it was all illegal shops in the neighborhood,” Carney said. “So it was very clear that the neighborhood needed something licensed and trustworthy, a product that they know they can trace from the farm to the point of sale.”

  • *This story was updated as of Feb. 23, 2024 at 9 a.m.
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