Skip to content
Home » Chris Marquart » New York’s cannabis licensing rollout, hurdles at the local level, and a dispensary planned for Ontario County

New York’s cannabis licensing rollout, hurdles at the local level, and a dispensary planned for Ontario County

Former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo legalized recreational marijuana for adult use on March 31, 2021. Since then, the NYS Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has been tasked with the rollout of licenses for the state’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Gov. Kathy Hochul approved a law earlier this month allowing hemp farmers to apply for licenses to grow and cultivate cannabis. Many are hopeful that retail licenses for marijuana dispensaries will soon follow.’s Ted Baker recently sat down with Finger Lakes Cannabis Co. owners Mark Byassee and Tim Hay to discuss the timeline for opening dispensaries in New York, obstacles faced on a municipal level, and their vision for a dispensary and storefront in Victor.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Byassee, a retired army veteran, has worked in sales and consulting for most of his career. He initially approached Hay regarding a dispensary business venture in early 2021, upon realizing marijuana legalization was imminent. Hay has been working in the landscape industry his entire life. He says being prescribed medical marijuana after an automobile accident opened his eyes to the potential benefits of the plant.

When recreational use of marijuana for people over 21 was legalized in New York, Byassee and Hay started putting together a team for what would become Finger Lakes Cannabis Co. They’ve also been visiting other marijuana-related businesses following the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) across New York and educating themselves on the industry. Byassee is hopeful that their dispensary, located at 5 Railroad St. in Victor, will open for business in the near future.

“News keeps getting better that the timeline is moving up [for licenses],” said Byassee. “Also, we targeted a very specific property in our hometown of Victor. It’s right on Route 444. It’s a historic train depot that’s really perfect for our vision and our brand.”

The Village of Victor voted unanimously to opt-in for allowing cannabis sales back in October 2021. Still, the process hasn’t always been easy- village residents initially raised concerns over potential traffic jams, increased crime, and youth usage of marijuana they argued could result from having a dispensary within the village limits.

“We went into the public hearing with the village, we’ve been in front of them three times or so, and we’ve been in front of the town once just to tell our story,” said Byassee. “Once we showed them this isn’t going to be some drug den- it’s going to be a nice place- and once we started sharing the types of revenue numbers, that the taxes go back to the community, people started nodding their head and saying, ‘Okay, these are two Victor guys, we know them, they’re respected in the community. It’s not some big company coming in from out of town.’”

Finger Lakes Cannabis Co. with be housed in two different storefronts in the same building. The first store will be the dispensary where actual THC-containing products are sold, and the other will be a gift shop for cannabis-related accessories called Terrapin Depot. The reason for the split-up has to do with a federal law, specifically Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), prohibiting businesses from selling a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which marijuana is still considered at the federal level. This means dispensaries cannot take tax deductions or claim tax credits expect for the cost of goods sold.

At least until tax laws are changed, Terrapin Depot will be where customers can buy cannabis-related merchandise like smoking pipes as well as non-cannabis, locally sourced products like soaps, wood carvings, and more.

“We’re going for that country theme. We’re in the Finger Lakes, we want to have it look like it’s in the country. We want it to be a place where if a husband and wife come in, one of them consumes and the other one doesn’t, one can walk around and shop and look at some stuff while the other is getting whatever they want to get to help their ailments,” explained Hay. “We want this to be something where everybody could come in, whether they consume or not, and look around and potentially buy something cannabis-related or Finger Lakes-related.”

You can listen to the rest of Ted Baker’s interview with Mark Byassee and Tim Hay, owners of Finger Lakes Cannabis Co., here.

You can also visit the Finger Lakes Cannabis Co. website here.