ITHACA, N.Y.— Dryden Dispensary will open for business next year. The shop will be the first in the town, and only the second licensed operation to open in Tompkins County, following the opening of the William Jane Dispensary on the Ithaca Commons earlier this year.
Long time friends Geneva Riley and Kevin Cossaboon will own and operate the store, which will be located in a retail space on the corner of Route 13 and Irish Settlement Road.
Chris Diemand, owner of Diemand Properties in Ithaca, said he will be acting as landlord and consultant to Riley and Cossaboon, who are close family friends.
Diemand said Cossaboon was a long-time employee and manager of Sugar Mountain in Binghamton, which Diemand describes as an “upscale smoke shop.” Riley was born in Jamaica and raised in New York City.
Her late father, Jimmy Riley, was a world-renowned reggae musician, who Diemand said taught her to appreciate the healing properties of hemp and cannabis. The store will carry Riley’s hemp-based skin care and wellness products, as well as locally sourced flower, concentrates, edibles, vapes and glass.
The team recently applied for an adult-use cannabis license through the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). Diemand said he expects the application to be prioritized because Riley qualifies as a Social and Economic Equity (SEE) applicant.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state established a $200 million social equity fund in June amid concerns about the sluggish growth of the retail cannabis industry in the state since sales were legalized in 2021.
SEE applicants are eligible to benefit from the fund that supports minority and other qualified applicants and gives licensees an opportunity to open on a short-term basis to “fast-track” sales.
Applicants that qualify include those from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition policies, minority and women owned businesses distressed farmers and service-disabled veterans.
The fund is among the largest sums any state has invested to ensure diversity and equity in the marijuana business.
William and Jane dispensary located on the Commons in Ithaca opened in March as the one of the first dispensaries in Upstate New York with support from the Social and Economic Equity Cannabis Investment fund Diemand said will also support Dryden Dispensary.
Diemand said he estimates they’ll be able to start selling by April 1, 2024, the same day his smoke shop in Binghamton opened for business over 20 years ago. He has opened eight retail stores over the years, including Ithaca Hemp Company on the Ithaca Commons, which opened in 1997.
“We were kind of like a J. Crew of hemp,” Diemand said.
The dispensary will be located in the 1,456-square-foot space formerly occupied by the ‘Back-to-Basics’ bulk food store. The building, at 2207 Dryden Road, has been unoccupied since it last changed hands in May 2017.
Diemand purchased the property early this month and said the build-out process is about 80-90% finished. He and his “crafty” friends, he said, handled much of the construction themselves.
Marty Moseley, director of code enforcement and zoning for the Town of Ithaca and owner of Municipal Relations Consulting LLC, is working as project consultant for Diemand and has been communicating with Dryden town officials.
The project was presented to the Town of Dryden’s Planning Board at its meeting August 24.
Moseley is legally able to consult on this project because it is located in Dryden and he handles code enforcement matters in the town of Ithaca.
This dispensary is designed to cater to a more “mainstream” consumer base, Diemand said, and will offer online delivery services.
The location of the store, which is set back from the main road, offers customers a more private experience, he said, and will hopefully attract customers curious about dispensaries.
“We want to be soccer mom friendly,” Diemand said. “Just because cannabis is legal, doesn’t mean it’s destigmatized.”
Correction (4:47 p.m.): The team at Dryden Dispensary applied for an adult-use cannabis license rather than a distribution license.