From “ Legacy to Legal” Queens native opens Silk Road NYC, Jamaica Avenue’s second licensed cannabis dispensary

Inset_ Sohan joined by his wife and daughter cut the ribbon with staff and OCM rep Damian Fagon and Cannabus NYC founder Dasheeda Dawson (right)
Sohan Bashar, joined by his wife and daughter, cuts the ribbon with staff and OCM rep Damian Fagon and Cannabis NYC founder Dasheeda Dawson (right)
Photo by Athena Dawson

Jamaica’s second recreational cannabis dispensary opened on Friday, Feb. 23, with the owner and his family holding a grand opening celebration.

Silk Road NYC, located at 166-30 Jamaica Ave.,  is the second licensed cannabis shop to open in downtown Jamaica, with the other being Good Grades that opened last year. Silk Road is owned and operated by Sohan Bashar, who grew up in Jamaica Queens and made history as the first Bangladeshi owner of a NYC certified dispensary.

Bashar has a longstanding relationship with cannabis and was busted on felony charges for selling pot prior to its legalization in 2021. “I’ve been in this community serving this community with clean cannabis before all of the New York roll out. I was one of the ones that would source these products myself,” he said. 

Bashar was able to open the dispensary after applying for a CAURD license, a program through the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)  that prioritizes people with drug-related convictions seeking a license to open a legal retail dispensary.

“Regulators created a wonderful pathway for legacy to legal, for those who were impacted the most [by the war on drugs],” he said. Bashar was awarded a provisional license in January 2023 and was given his final license in January 2024, which allowed him to open Silk Road NYC.

“The decriminalization of marijuana was amazing because all the stuff we were getting in trouble for we are no longer in trouble for. The plant is back in the hands of the people,” he said. 

Bashar worked with High Exposure Consulting—a cannabis consultant business—on community outreach. The consultants also provided him with business advice.

“Going from legacy to legal is a whole new way of doing business so we help to translate that in terms of infrastructure and different software apps that may be helpful,” said cannabis coach and consultant Amy Chen. “The general public doesn’t know an illicit shop from a legal shop, so there’s a lot of education that needs to be provided in the community that the dispensary has opened in.” 

Dispensary features an array of cannabis products Photo by Athena Dawson

Dasheeda Dawson, founding director of Cannabis NYC, attended the grand opening to educate attendees on how business owners like Bashar can follow a pathway to opening cannabis related businesses in New York.

“Cannabis NYC is an office that was developed specifically to help oversee the development of the legal cannabis industry in New York City. We are located within the department of Small Business Services. We are also involved in developing an interagency hub of resources and city wide services for any New Yorker interested in cannabis,” she said.

Damian Fagon, chief equity officer for the OCM, praised Bashar for the tenacity and fortitude he’s shown in opening the dispensary.

“Your story is so New York cannabis from start to finish that it stuck with me,” Fagon said. “The journey you’ve been on over the last year has been unparalleled. There is no one better to represent this community with this retail dispensary store than you.”

In an emotional speech, Bashar’s wife, Marina, praised her husband for accomplishing his dream and creating a legacy for their family.

“I’m so proud to be his wife, and a business partner in a venture that is not just a business but a legacy we are making for our daughters. Sohan [Bashar] is the epitome of motivation and perseverance every day he exemplifies what it means to push boundaries, overcome challenges and strive for excellence,”  she said.

Sohan Bashar with his wife Marina and daughter Sophie at the grand opening of his dispensary Silk Road NYC