The legacy operator company Happy Munkey held its fifth-anniversary party at the Classic Car Club on the Manhattan waterfront in New York City.
While no cannabis consumption was allowed inside, it was allowed outside on the patio overlooking the Hudson River across from North Jersey. Thus many people were consuming outside. While it was loud inside, the outside patio offered a great place to hang out and chill.
It was a sold-out party with a diverse crowd that brought many leading New Jersey cannabis professionals, businesspeople, and leaders in the New York City cannabis industry and community. A band played great Latin music.
“Without you, we wouldn’t be here. We just want to thank everybody from where we started to where we are now. Ya know, the vibe attracts your tribe. We are gonna show the example of what, ya know, marginalized people can do with this industry from being a charity case to being a leader, leaders of this industry,” Happy Munkey Co-Founder Vlad Batista said to the crowd.
On the patio, New Jersey cannabis advocate* Jonathan Frank of Dirty Dank Jersey gave out dabs at a bar for free outside, where we made a video.
There was also a volcano bar on the other side of the patio.
One of the most interesting things offered was delicious medicated or infused gelato and sorbet being sold in the corner of the room.
When leaving, people received a fun goody bag.
Like other cannabis events, there were not enough chairs.
Last summer, Happy Munkey threw a great party at the Van Gogh immersive experience overlooking the East River.
While a legacy operator with a de facto lounge, there were licensed corporate cannabis companies sponsoring the party.
Happy Munkey Rebranding to Go Legit
Happy Munkey’s Public Relations consultant Stu Zakim explained Happy Munkey is phasing out its logo of a very high-looking monkey wearing a gi or karate clothes.
“It’s not allowed,” he said. He noted there are fears it would appeal to children in the vein of Joe Camel, the Camels Cigarettes mascot. Thus, both New York and New Jersey do not permit licensed cannabis companies to have mascots.
Happy Munkey co-founders Batista and Ramon Reyes have applied for two adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses through two separate applications, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Both applied on August 25th, when the New York dispensary application portal opened.
Notably, they do not plan to open a legal cannabis consumption lounge which is what they are known for in the legacy market.
“They already did that. Why do what they perfected?” Zakim said. “They set the bar and could license it in other states.”
“We could have six dispensaries, more than the MSOs (Multi-State Operators),” he explained. “That’s the whole reason legalization was put in place, right, to give legacy guys and the others equal footing. Not only equal footing, superior footing. It’s pretty cool.”
Unfortunately, cannabis consumption lounges remain controversial even in the West’s more established legal cannabis markets. Part of the problem is that the public thinks cannabis consumption will make people act like they are drunk and rowdy. They do not understand the calming effect cannabis consumption has.
“The State dictates locations. The State gives you the real estate in New York,” Zakim noted. “They’re renting all these storefronts for Social Equity applicants because the rents are so high in Manhattan, and they tell you where you’re going to be. That’s only for two years.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D), who is running for her first election after Andrew Cuomo resigned from the office in disgrace last summer, made cannabis legalization a priority to build a record to run. As part of that, the state dormitory authority is handling locations since it is a great barrier to entry.
According to CBS News, she has a 17-point lead over her opponent, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin from Long Island, who claims the race is tighter.