‘Hii’ time: Williamsburg gets its first legal recreational weed dispensary

Hii NYC, located at 152 Bedford Ave., is owned by Brooklynite Peter Beznos, and opened on Friday — just in time for 4/20.
Photo by Adam Daly

Williamsburg’s first legal recreational weed dispensary opened its doors to customers on Friday, the eighth licensed store now open in Kings County — and just in time for 4/20.

Hii NYC, located at 152 Bedford Ave., is owned by Brooklynite Peter Beznos who said at the April 19 grand opening that his main hope for the store is to be able to educate the local community on safe and legal weed use, aiming to be a “safe haven” among the myriad of illegal vendors across the neighborhood and city.

“This is a state sanctioned dispensary and all of these are licensed providers, everything is grown and processed here in New York state,” said Beznos. “If it’s not legal, you just don’t know what you’re getting. Everything at our store is pre-packaged by the company, you have the company’s phone number on the back, you have somebody who’s actually answering for the product.”

The dispensary and its website is stocked with marijuana flower, pre-rolls, edibles and concentrates from several NY-based cannabis companies who have also teamed up with Hii NYC for product education. Reps for the vendors keep the dispensary’s bud-tenders highly-trained so they can pass that knowledge on to consumers — whether they’re experienced or green users.

Beznos sold his previous contracting company to get into the cannabis business not long after it was legalized in New York state in March 2021.

“This is a passion of mine,” he said. “I was always consuming it and now I would love to share it with everybody else and to teach that there’s a way to enjoy it by practicing safely.”

The store received its license from the state’s Office of Cannabis Management last May and secured the store location later that July, but was delayed from opening until after the state had resolved a long legal battle that held up licensing in Brooklyn.

The slow rollout of licenses for dispensaries has seen hundreds of “gray-market” weed stores open across the city taking advantage of legal loopholes that made cracking down on the businesses harder for officials.

“Unlicensed dispensaries have littered New York neighborhoods, blatantly circumventing our laws and selling potentially dangerous products,” Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday, announcing new initiatives to shut down illicit cannabis operations as part of the FY25 Enacted Budget.

Hochul’s plan will give greater powers to the Office of Cannabis Management and local municipalities to take action against illicit storefronts by authorizing them to padlock businesses immediately following an inspection if they found to be selling to minors, have products not tested or labeled according to New York Law, among other reasons.

Under the plan, if landlords fail to bring forth eviction proceedings against tenants found to be in violation of the cannabis law they can face fines of $50,000.

“New York City will finally be able to use the full force of the law to inspect, enforce, and shut down illegal dispensaries,” Mayor Eric Adams said following Hochul’s announcement. “These measures, combined with our already robust enforcement efforts, will help keep the playing field level and push back against the quality-of-life issues that have resulted from the proliferation of illegal smoke shops.”