The Cannabis Place Opens in Middle Village, marks the 9th adult-use dispensary to open in Queens

cannabis place
The Cannabis Place, the first legal cannabis dispensary to open in Middle Village, holds a grand opening with key figures responsible for the accomplishment.
Photo by Anthony Medina

The Cannabis Place, a legal adult-use cannabis dispensary, officially opened its doors at 74-03 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village on Saturday, March 16, after years of preparation and a slew of challenges.

Osbert Orduña, the chief executive officer and founder of The Cannabis Place, joined with family, friends, and key figures from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management to celebrate the grand opening. The store is the ninth adult-use dispensary to open in Queens—with three in Astoria, two in Long Island City, two in Jamaica and one in Bayside.

The Cannabis Place is the first store to legally operate in central Queens. However, there are more likely to follow, as several applications have been filed for licenses in Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Glendale.

The grand opening celebration of The Cannabis Place, a legal cannabis dispensary in Middle Village, marks another milestone in the city’s rollout of legal cannabis storefronts. Osbert Orduña cuts the ribbon to his new business location. Photo by Anthony Medina

In a conversation with QNS, Orduña says he welcomes his neighbors and community members to enter his dispensary, ask questions, and learn about every product. He also says he is committed to being part of the community and help thwart the illegal cannabis sellers in the neighborhood.

“I want people from the neighborhood to know that this is a licensed legal cannabis dispensary that is completely different from the unlicensed smoke shops that exist in the community,” Orduña says.

At the site where a Capitol One Bank operated for years, the interior of the dispensary stays true in highlighting simplicity and safety in its design. Similar to what is seen at other legal dispensaries throughout the city, The Cannabis Place showcases products available to purchase on display shelves found as customers enter the facility.

Cannabis products on display inside The Cannabis Place showcase what the business offers to customers. The products are given to customers through a secure storage area upon payment. Photo by Anthony Medina

A staff of nearly two dozen employees, also referred to as bud-tenders, provide advice on each of the products, such as flowers, rolls, edibles, oils, and even cannabis-infused beverages.

Samples of various cannabis flowers at The Cannabis Place through small, secured containers that allow customers to smell the product before purchase. No consumption of cannabis is allowed at the dispensary site. Photo by Anthony Medina

The back of the shop offers an intimate VIP area for clients where community-based events like open mic nights or information sessions are expected to take place, but no cannabis consumption will take place on location, Orduña said.

More importantly for Orduña, The Cannabis Place is meant to educate customers as to the stigma once associated with marijuana. For instance, the design of a big banner inside the shop– which features The Cannabis Place logo– includes anti-cannabis literature/ posters from the past when cannabis use was demonized. The banner symbolizes how society has grown to embrace cannabis over time leading to legal businesses such as his.

Various cannabis infused vape products, coming from state-licensed distributors, at The Cannabis Place. Photo by Anthony Medina

Joining Orduña at the opening were city and state officials who have played a part in the rollout of legal cannabis storefronts. For instance, Chris Alexander, the executive director of OCM, and Dasheeda Dawson, founding director of the Cannabis NYC initiative, showed their support.

Last year, at a Community Board 5 meeting, Orduña presented his proposal to open The Cannabis Place, which came under scrutiny due to its location.

Orduña faced resistance from some residents and members of the community board, who argued that the dispensary was in a questionable location since it is on a busy roadway where children and families would be exposed to cannabis. The state, nevertheless, approved his license.

He also faced other obstacles, such as when the OCM was hit with a lawsuit challenging the cannabis licensing process. The lawsuit, which put a halt on the administering of new licenses and hence his opening, argued that service-disabled veterans were being pushed aside in terms of obtaining a license by the Cannabis Control Board for “justice-involved individuals” applications.

Orduña is an experienced cannabis business owner, with him operating another dispensary in New Jersey. As a military veteran, he says he turned to the cannabis business to find alternative means to help the mental health of fellow vets. He also offers apparel at the shop that pays homage to his fellow service members.

Despite the many challenges, Orduña said he and his store plan to become a pillar in the community. He said he would work with the community board in contributing to the neighborhood’s success as he promised when he applied for his license.