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New York Cannabis Dispensary Series: Terp Bros – Keeping Astoria Elevated (Safely & Legally)

By Taryn Schofield

Dispensary Name: Terp Bros

Dispensary Location: 36-10 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria, NY 11105

Dispensary Owner: Jeremy Rivera

Website: https://www.terpbrosnyc.com/

Instagram: @terpbros.astoria

Path to legal cannabis:

Excerpted from an article in QNS:

When 29-year-old Jeremy Rivera stood before a judge in Queens County Court on Aug. 8, 2016, he was sentenced to two years in Gouverneur Correctional Facility in Upstate New York for a non-violent crime: possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

Prior to his arrest, Rivera was in possession of marijuana or cannabis, something that wouldn’t become legal in New York until several years later and something that remains a hot-button issue today.

Rivera, now a three-time felon from various past drug charges, went off to prison to serve his sentence and looked to the future, not knowing then that his conviction would be the key to his future success.

Both Rivera’s checkered past and post-incarceration success caught his friend’s attention, prompting him to tell Rivera about the CAURD licensing program and how applicants needed both a cannabis-related offense that occurred prior to the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA) in March 2021 and business ownership experience in New York in order to qualify.

“I really gravitated toward it,” Rivera said. “It was something about the reform and the justice involvement for people like myself to be awarded a second chance and have the ability to actually show improved change. It was something I fell in love with.”

The mission of Terp Bros:

Excerpted from an article in Queens Daily Eagle:

“The people, the constituents, the community, they want to buy legally,” said Rivera. “From what I've been hearing from the community that's been coming to our soft opening days, they have been waiting for this moment in Astoria, they have been waiting for a legal cannabis safe dispensary to open. They don't want that option; they don't want to shop in these illegal stores.” 

Excerpted from an article in Green Market Report:

We’ve built great relationships with our fellow business owners and have found ways to promote each other. By putting ourselves out there and humanizing ourselves a bit, we were able to foster a lot of acceptance and excitement about the presence of a legal dispensary in the neighborhood.

Terp Bros was a voice for CAURD licensees during uncertain times:

Excerpted from an article in NY1:

Terp Bros Dispensary, a new legal cannabis dispensary, was set to open on Aug. 15 along a busy commercial stretch of Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.

Owner Jeremy Rivera signed a lease on June 1, built out the space and hired 23 employees.

Then came a judge’s ruling effectively putting the state’s cannabis rollout in limbo.

“If we’re not open in the next couple weeks, I’m possibly going bankrupt,” Rivera said. “We’re not going to be able to pay the rent for this location. I’m currently not working because I put all my focus into opening a dispensary and being full-fledged on this. So, I have no other income. I’m living on fumes right now.”

“These are people who have families and bills and responsibilities,” he said.

Excerpted from an article in Gothamist:

“This is really just me and my partner taking our life savings and trying to open a business that we thought we had a shot in,” Rivera told Gothamist. He said it has been a year-and-a-half since he first started working on his CAURD application.

Rivera, who now has his own construction company, said he initially struggled to find work after he served time for a cannabis conviction. He said he was denied an instruction license he applied for under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration when he was released from prison in 2018.

“Being a convicted felon isn't easy,” Rivera said.

The dispensary brings a real “neighborhood-y” feel:  

Excerpted from an article in AMNewYork:

The shelves of Terp Bros sat full of marijuana flowers, edibles, pre-rolls, and various other CBD products as local elected officials flocked to the new shop at 3610 Ditmars Boulevard to commemorate the neighborhood’s historic grand opening.  

Excerpted from an article in Curbed:

Nestled among the restaurants on this strip of Ditmars, Terp Bros is the first dispensary to open in Astoria. Walking into the shop, customers are greeted with murals of smokers by Zeehan Wazed and Tommy Kaui Nahulu across from a wall of cartridges and pre-rolls. “I loaded up my bag with New York–founded brands,” says Marni Unger of the nearby Etain Health. “I got pre-rolls from Electraleaf and Good Day Flor, some flower from Hudson Cannabis, and an eighth of Lifted’s Tropicana Cookies — they’re a legacy grower from Queens and the best legal weed I’ve had here.” Also, the selection of cartridges is “banging,” says Queens native and customer Luca P., who bought carts by Heavy Hitters and plugplay. Although Terp Bros just opened in October, it’s already getting involved in the community. “They’re a real neighborhood shop. One of the co-founders, Jeremy, is from Queens,” says Unger.

Excerpted from an article in Green Market Report:

A core goal of the legal cannabis industry is to integrate into and contribute to our local communities. Especially with some preexisting stigmas still at play and illicit shops present, it is key that you are connecting with your neighbors and contributing to your community.

Astoria, where Terp Bros is located, is a tight-knit community. This is why we made it a point to introduce ourselves to the other local businesses on Ditmars Boulevard, especially the restaurants next door.

What will NY’s cannabis industry look like in five years?

Excerpted from an article in NY Cannabis Insider:

I believe it’s going to be fresh and new, something different than what we are used to seeing in other mature states. With the CAURD program and the focus on social equity, we should see a lot more Black and brown owned cannabis businesses, also a lot more woman-owned cannabis businesses. With the slow roll out in New York State, in five years this industry may be just gaining running room.

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