The first legal retail dispensary in Queens, co-owned by Extasy James and her cousin, Michael James, opened as a temporary “pop-up” in March at 162-03 Jamaica Ave. in the heart of Jamaica.
In August, the pop-up closed to renovate the sprawling 4,000-square-foot space in collaboration with Salt Construction Management and Seven Point Interiors under the creative direction of Michael James.
With its open-floor layout, the store is bright and airy, providing a clean and upscale atmosphere aiming to dispel the stoner stereotype.
Good Grades sells edibles, smoke-related items, tinctures and topicals from leading cannabis brands and vets the highest quality, organic and locally-grown cannabis products via weekly “Report Cards” and only promotes products that receive an A rating.
Extasy James’ father was deported due to a cannabis offense and the co-owners received their license through the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license program, which prioritized licensure to operate for those impacted by cannabis prohibition and enforcement and their family members.
Michael James, a Jamaica, Queens, native and lawyer for minority business owners, said their emphasis on education first made them stand out from the other legal dispensaries in the city.
Good Grades team members, referred to as “budtenders,” are present throughout the dispensary to provide educational materials from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).
Michael James shared that their store established a four-year, $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 per year) for full-time undergraduate students in select majors and prioritizes applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
“There are brands that are taking this seriously, but not as seriously as us,” Michael James told QNS.
Extasy James said as long as the vendors produced certified organic products from New York state, “they were in business.”
Extasy James said that customers come in for different products.
“Everybody looks for a different type of thing,” Extasy James said. “Some older [customers], they like oils, not flower. Some don’t like flower, but they’ll have gummies. It depends.”
Among others, Good Grades features products by Miss Grass, a woman-owned and operated cannabis company.
Lisa Sanchez, Miss Grass’ sales manager for New York and New Jersey, was excited that Miss Grass’ mini pre-rolls, which come with matches, were part of the line-up at Good Grades.
“We’re so excited to be here at Good Grades. Especially on the first day, [the] grand opening in this beautiful location,” Sanchez said. “I’m really happy to be here and be featured in such a prime location.”
Customer Elizabeth Suarez was thrilled to see the reopening of Good Grades. The Far Rockaway resident came to Jamaica to shop and bought cannabis at the Good Grades pop-up store.
“I came in, and [the cannabis] was good. And then, when I came back, they were closed,” Suarez said, wondering what had happened to Good Grades. “So I was just passing by and all of a sudden, I saw they are open.”
Suarez, who has a pinched nerve and herniated disks, raved about the products Good Grades sells, which help her manage the pain.
“The illegal shops, you spend your money and some of it is not good,” Suarez said. “And you spend your money and you are like, ‘what the heck?’ And these places, I know they’re legal, so they got good stuff.”
Good Grades is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. For more information, visit goodgradesnyc.com/home-m.