‘Showcase’ allows customers to meet growers
The police station building at 463 Main St. in Beacon, which operated from 1913 to 1996, was known in the 1950s to some residents as “the joint,” a reference to the holding cells where miscreants might spend the night.
As of Sept. 22, it has been a weekend source of joints, welcoming customers to a temporary retail operation that legally sells cannabis products.
New York State has issued 463 licenses for retail dispensaries since the sale of recreational marijuana for adults was legalized in 2021. That includes 44 licenses to operators based in the Mid-Hudson region. But so far, just 23 dispensaries have opened statewide, forcing farmers and companies making edibles and other products to sit on their inventory.
(The state Office of Cannabis Management has so far only issued licenses to operators with previous marijuana convictions, but the application process opens to the general public on Wednesday, Oct. 4.)
The Station is one of more than 20 state-approved “showcases,” an interim system that gives farmers and processors places to sell buds and edibles while awaiting the opening of more retail dispensaries.
The Station is open Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 30. It offers joints, flowers, gummies, chocolates and concentrate produced principally in the Hudson Valley by Platinum Reserve, Supernaturals New York, oHHo, Empire Farm, Harvest and Nowave. Bannermans Batch, a product grown by Hudson River Farms in Hopewell Junction, is also for sale. The Current profiled the farm last year.
No smoking is allowed on the premises; a separate state license is required to operate a lounge.
Kamel Jamal, who purchased the former police station in April 2022, does not have a license to sell marijuana. Instead, the producers display their goods, which can be purchased at a central register operated by Albany-based Legacy Dispensers, which has a license. Jamal said he isn’t charging the producers anything but hosting the showcase to help farmers.
However, Jamal plans to be among the first people to apply for a dispensary license. “It’s important to have legal cannabis being sold through legal dispensaries,” he said on Wednesday (Sept. 27). “If money can be counterfeited, they can also counterfeit cannabis packaging.”
Jamal said people who have purchased pot at underground shops have told him the experience is “like buying sushi at a gas station.” He said New York is trying to be “the best in the country,” but that with delays in opening licensed dispensaries, “farmers are getting hurt, because they’re sitting on a lot of inventory.”
He said the Beacon Cannabis Growers Showcase will be the “sole legal cannabis-purchasing location within a 28-mile radius” of Beacon, a reference to a showcase that operates in New Hampton, near Middletown, in Orange County. There are 18 other showcases around the state, including in Warwick (Orange County) and New Paltz (Ulster).
The marijuana business is a new venture for Jamal, who operates four Beacon restaurants: WTF, Tito Santana Taqueria, Ziatun and Beacon Bread Co. He is also the former owner of Angelina’s Restaurant in Cold Spring.
Repurposing the former police station as a cannabis outlet “has been a long path,” he said. “It’s a different kind of project, outside my realm. I went through ups and downs, and I changed my mind a dozen times.”
One of the biggest challenges, he said, was hiring the right team. “I was interviewing people but not getting the creativity I was looking for,” he said. “But the universe works in amazing ways; I found the right people.”
Jamal is The Station’s chief executive and chief financial officer; his wife, Lena, is co-owner. The project director, Theresa Dobrash, has worked in the regulated cannabis industry in California, Colorado and Maine, and the creative director, Mallory Lemieux, has a background in architecture, design and technology.
The banner outside the former police building reads, “The Station: Lifestyle and Radio.” The first floor will be devoted to cannabis sales, but Jamal has plans for a soundproofed “radio room” on the second floor to record a podcast called Stirring the Pot.
“We’ll have a barber’s chair, and our friend Lucky [Longo] will be cutting hair,” Jamal said. “We’ll just talk about the world. It’s going to be a creative community workspace and a lot of fun.”
Like Jamal, Grant McCabe, who owns The Leaf NY on Main Street in Beacon, which stocks products containing the cannabis compound cannabidiol, said he plans to apply for a retail license next week. He said his operation may not necessarily be located in Beacon.
McCabe said one advantage of running The Leaf, which opened in 2019, is that he is already familiar with many of the people licensed to grow marijuana and process the plant into edibles. “I know we’ll get the best products at the best prices and have the best customer service,” he said.
Leonard Sparks contributed reporting.