At long last: Brooklyn’s first legal recreational marijuana dispensary opens in Gravesend

gravesend marijuana dispensary
Grow Together, Brooklyn’s first legal marijuana dispensary, officially opened its doors on Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Ghitelman/X

Brooklyn’s first legal recreational weed dispensary finally opened in Gravesend on Tuesday, nearly three years after recreational marijuana was first legalized in New York State.

Grow Together, located at 2370 Coney Island Ave. near Avenue U, is owned by Christopher Ledlum and Steven Sapoznik, who the state’s Office of Cannabis Management described as “an experienced local entrepreneur and justice-involved individual.” The shop is New York state’s 36th legal adult-use marijuana dispensary – but the first in Brooklyn, as back-t0-back lawsuits dragged out license approvals in the borough.

“At Grow Together, we are more than just a dispensary,” reads the shop’s website. “We are a community hub dedicated to promoting wellness, education, and empowerment. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, our mission is to provide a safe and inclusive space where individuals can access high-quality cannabis products, explore their well-being, and connect with like-minded individuals.”

According to Grow Together’s site, the shop offers marijuana flower, pre-rolls, edibles, and potent oils and concentrates, as well as cannabis-related items like lighters and rolling papers. 

“As one of the first dispensaries in Brooklyn, we are committed to setting the highest standards in the industry,” the website continues. “Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are here to guide you through our extensive selection of carefully curated cannabis products, ensuring you find the right fit for your needs and preferences.”

A legal battle that had specifically prevented the state from issuing dispensary licenses in Brooklyn and the Finger Lakes was resolved in March, and the state immediately began issuing licenses to prospective weed entrepreneurs — but, just months later, another lawsuit was filed, forcing the state to pause its interim licensing program and leaving dozens of businesses in limbo. That suit was settled last month, allowing more than 400 business owners to open their shops. Both lawsuits centered on the state’s initial licensing regulations — which dictated that dispensaries at least partially owned by “justice-involved” people, who had previously been convicted of marijuana-related offenses, would be prioritized in the application process.

Weeks after the second lawsuit was settled, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that a slew of new dispensaries — including Grow Together, which received its license in August — would open before the end of the year.

“As New York expands the most equitable cannabis market in the nation, my administration remains committed to building a safe industry for all New Yorkers that will grow our small business community,” Hochul said in a statement. “These new dispensaries continue our mission of strengthening our legal market while at the same time helping to push out the bad actors who skirt our laws and undermine all we are trying to accomplish.”

While the legal troubles prevented legal retailers from opening their doors, gray-market dispensaries — selling illegal and unregulated marijuana products — continued to multiply across New York City, to the ire of local pols and residents. On Dec. 18, just a day before Grow Together opened its doors authorities shuttered Big Chief, an illegal marijuana store in Bay Ridge, after the shop was hit with multiple violations from state and city regulators. 

“We have no tolerance for illicit retailers who break the law and undermine our nation-leading adult-use cannabis industry,” Hochul said after Big Chief was closed. “This site egregiously violated New York’s cannabis laws and I’m proud to be working with the Attorney General to shut this down. With Brooklyn’s first legal cannabis retailers opening this month and illegal shops continuing to close, we are turning the corner towards building a stronger, safer cannabis industry.”

The state has approved – or is on the cusp of approving – dozens of additional licenses in Brooklyn, with more shops expected to open next year.