Marijuana Moment: Local Man Gets License Go-ahead

Marijuana Moment

Local Man Gets License Go-ahead

By TED MEBUST

ONEONTA – Ten years ago, New York State’s judicial system found Frances “Frankie” Russo guilty of a crime that has carried enormous cultural baggage in our country: the illegal sale of cannabis. Beyond the ramifications of pleading guilty to a class E nonviolent crime, Russo experienced social ostracization and a new limitation imposed on job prospects.

Despite these obstacles, he devoted his time to e-commerce, building a successful graphic design business. Over the last decade, Russo’s growing brand, Premium MFG, LLC, has received enough acclaim to be awarded by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management with one of the state’s first licenses to sell cannabis—legally.

“I feel good. It’s unreal. I’m just grateful to the State of New York for the opportunity to bring this business to the Mohawk Valley,” Russo said of receiving the license. CuredNY, his fledgling cannabis business, is hoping to begin the process of opening as soon as possible.

The NYSOCM, established in March of 2021 by the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, has allotted 175 Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses to be issued, serving areas that “were impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.” Twenty-five of these will go to charitable organizations that serve the recently incarcerated.

NYSOCM received more than 900 CAURD license applications, releasing just 36 in this first round. Applicants were required to have a “significant presence in New York,” be “justice-involved,” and have a record of profitability for over two years for a business they own.

A lawsuit regarding the legality of New York State favoring “justice-involved individuals” has caused a federal judge to temporarily block licenses in five of 14 areas of the state, stifling many eager business owners looking to capitalize on the opportunity to be one of the state’s first legal adult-use vendors.

“It’s unclear, we’re not really sure what’s going on—it’s just a waiting game,” said Russo of his interactions with NYSOCM regarding the temporary ban.

Of his qualifications for the business, Russo said that over the last eight years, he’s built a network through his graphic design business of relationships with cultivators and vendors across the country to expand his place in the cannabis industry.

“I’m a legacy guy in this industry—I’ve been involved for years, but haven’t had the chance to participate.”

He invited any legal farms or retail shops in New York with inquiries to “feel free to reach out.” Russo is also looking to hire graphic designers and digital creators.

For more information regarding Russo and his businesses, visit GetCuredNY.com, or @GetCuredNY or on Instagram.


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