Vape Store Owners Hope to Sell Cannabis

By Celia Bernhardt |

Community Board 10 heard from a new cannabis license applicant last Thursday night during their general board meeting.

Kishan Mahipath stood next to his wife, Jennifer Mahipath, as he presented to the board. The couple live in the district with their two sons, and work together as business partners. Mahipath already owns the location he hopes to obtain a cannabis license for: 124-20 Liberty Avenue in South Richmond Hill. Currently, the couple operate a licensed vape shop, Vaporize Inc, at the storefront. Mahipath said he had also obtained a hemp license for the business in 2017.

“Our intent is now to go forward after all the other licenses I’ve mentioned to obtain an adult use [cannabis] retail license for the location,” Mahipath said. “With our past, since 2016, I feel that we’ve been very good custodians of these licenses for our community.”

With no comments from the public that night, the board posed a handful of brief questions after Mahipath’s initial presentation.

Mahipath said that with the adult use retail license, there would be no on-site consumption permitted. “I do not want the extra liability of my patrons, if we ever do get the license, to sit there and consume. I feel as though that might kind of push the boundaries on liability, whether it’s with my insurance or just also for the community.”

He also addressed the subject of security, mentioning his use of two different camera systems—one cloud-based, and one that uploads footage to a private, localized server. He said that he plans to continue contracting Elite Security, a New York-based company that he has used for his other shops, to provide door security. “We like them because they follow directions. We also like them because they don’t know anyone from the neighborhood, so there’s no favoritism,” Mahipath said.

Describing the interior of the store, Mahipath explained that the customer area would be separate from the retail and employee area of the store, with products protected by plexiglass. He also described “dusk-till-dawn” lighting on the exterior of the building.

Regarding hours of operation, Mahipath said he planned to keep the store closed on Mondays and open from 11:00 AM- 6:00 PM on all other days.

“I have a family,” he said. “I have kids that go to school, I got dogs to feed, I need to get home and get them ready for bed, you know, cook dinner.”

“It’s after dark,” Jennifer said. “We don’t really want to be out there either.”

Mahipath said that in 2019, due to the implementation of vaporizer regulations, “we lost a large volume of our business to nothing.”

“The reason we stayed open,” he continued, “was because we knew that the marijuana license was going to be a thing for retail. And the reason we didn’t start selling marijuana for the last two years was because we wanted to go the legal route, like we always did—even though, as was discussed, you probably have over 99% of any [marijuana stores], none of them hold a license.”

State Senator Joe Addabbo spoke directly after the Mahipaths, giving general updates before addressing the ongoing process of cannabis license applications.

“I voted no for legalizing marijuana. We weren’t ready for it, and I think it’s shown that we were not ready for this,” he said. “But now, I have no problem with somebody doing a legal business, I have no problem with somebody trying to make a living. But I have a serious problem when you do even the legal cannabis shops in front of children, in front of a school.”

Addabbo mentioned the turmoil in nearby Community District 5, which has seen intense outcry from Glendale residents about an application for a location next to a McDonalds that school children often gather at.

“I hope to work with OCM, I hope to work with the Community Boards in my district as they each face this issue,” Addabbo said. “I hope we can work a balance.”

With regard to Mahipath’s application, no one at the meeting mentioned any concerns about proximity to schools, churches, or local spots popular with kids.

Later in the meeting, Chairperson Betty Braton explained how the application process would move forward for the three applications in process. The Board plans to put together a questionnaire for the applicants, who will have a week to complete and submit it. Then, the Land Use Committee and Public Safety Committee will discuss the questionnaires and any potential issues in a joint meeting, before the Board finally votes on the applications at their December meeting.

Two other applications—one for 94-24 Liberty Ave from Michael Elias, and another for 135-35 Lefferts boulevard from Roberto Carro—were already discussed by the Board at their October 5th meeting, and were subject to a public hearing where community members asked questions on October 24th.

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