Rochester's first legal cannabis shop opened its doors on Wednesday marking a significant milestone more than two years after the state endorsed the retail cannabis trade.

Located at 1749 East Ave., directly across from Wegmans, Herbal IQ-Rochester is offering a range of products sourced from Finger Lakes and Central New York growers and processors. However, the process of granting licenses for retail dispensaries across Finger Lakes and much of the state has been hindered by legal disputes. 

What You Need To Know

  • Rochester's first legal cannabis shop for recreational use, Herbal IQ-Rochester, opened its doors Wednesday after a delay of more than two years since the state's legalization of retail cannabis sales

  • Legal disputes and litigation have been the main obstacles to granting licenses for retail dispensaries in Finger Lakes and the wider state

  • Herbal IQ-Rochester operates as a temporary "pop-up" store, leveraging a new policy approved by the state Cannabis Control Board

Given this context, it's important to view Herbal IQ-Rochester as more of a temporary pop-up store than a permanent establishment. This initiative capitalizes on a new directive ratified by the state Cannabis Control Board in July. This permits already-established legal dispensaries to set up temporary outlets, where growers and processors can directly showcase and sell to consumers. The organizers envision the pop-up store to remain operational until December 31, 2023. The range of products will extend to extracts, edibles and beverages from local processor NOWAVE.

"To conduct a showcase, a licensed and operational dispensary is required, and Rochester lacks one," said Mike Dulen from A Walk in the Pines. "So, given our strong rapport with Herbal IQ, they agreed to host the showcase." 

Dulen has a history in the cannabis industry, having previously worked on Constellation Brands' strategy team.

Herbal IQ-Rochester's initiative is offering a sanctioned approach for new stores to commence operations, at least temporarily, without worrying about the ongoing court injunction. A highlight among the showcased products will be gummies produced in Rochester by NOWAVE using flowers cultivated by A Walk in the Pines. This concept was first introduced earlier this month in New Paltz.

NOWAVE's products are available in nearly all legal dispensaries in New York, totaling 23, according to the state Office of Cannabis Management. 

Herbal IQ-Rochester will operate from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays and from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. on Sundays.