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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Cannabicity’ at Mohawk Harbor CBD Aims to Transform into a Cannabis Dispensary


SCHENECTADY — The life of Barbara Vaughn took a dramatic turn when she celebrated her 60th birthday.

In 2010, Vaughn, a resident of Kingston, was diagnosed with transverse myelitis. This neurological disorder causes inflammation around the spinal cord, disrupts nerve signals, and in severe cases, can lead to paralysis.

After three episodes of the disease, Vaughn found herself unable to walk. Thanks to her years of bodybuilding, she managed to regain the use of her limbs, but she was left with a persistent “burning” nerve pain from her midsection downwards.

“I do take a nerve medication for pain, but it does not take the pain away,” said Vaughn, now 74.

The diagnosis “completely changed” Vaughn’s life and forced her to cease operating the lighting store she had run for many years.

Eventually, she began using medical marijuana to help alleviate her symptoms and then turned to cannabinoids — more commonly referred to as CBD — for relief. Vaughn said the CBD-infused sprays, gummies and ointments she rubs on the soles of her feet have become part of her daily pain-management routine.

“It’s a very important part of my regimen to be well,” she said.

After spending years talking up the benefits of CBD to her friends and family, Vaughn began looking to open a storefront in 2018 in hopes of getting CBD products in the hands of those facing similar circumstances. After scouring the Hudson Valley and Capital Region for a location, Vaughn finally settled on Mohawk Harbor.

Cannabicity officially opened its doors last month with a gamut of products that range from edibles to CBD-infused beverages, ointments and flowers that can be smoked. Shelves are also stocked with sleep aids and vape pens, and there’s even a section devoted to pets.

The 3,500-square-foot facility is adjacent to the V1N1 nail salon and the Courtyard Marriot hotel, and is just a short walk from hundreds of apartments, and destinations like Druthers, Shaker & Vine, and Rivers Casino and Resort. There’s also ample parking, which can be an issue for some businesses in the city.

It all makes for the perfect place to set up shop, Vaunghn said.

“There’s a lot going on in that area,” she said. “It’s very accessible. You can get to it easily by car or bike — or even boat.”

The storefront is CBD focused for now. Vaughn, however, said she has applied for a license with the state to operate a retail cannabis dispensary and is ready to begin selling adult-use marijuana should she be approved.

The storefront is already equipped with a secure lobby and a spacious vault that is behind fortified walls for extra security. A spacious counter in the front of the store is also equipped with alarms.

“We’re in the queue,” said David Johnson, the store’s general manager, referring to the licensing process that many in the industry have criticized for being drawn out.

Schenectady welcomed its first retail cannabis dispensary on Union Street last year. Storefronts have since opened in Albany, Colonie and Troy, and dispensaries have been proposed in Saratoga Springs and the nearby village of Scotia.

“We’re ready to transition,” Vaughn said.

If Vaughn is granted a dispensary license, Cannabicity would be the only retail marijuana business allowed to operate at Mohawk Harbor due to regulations requiring at least 1,000 feet of distance between dispensaries.

It’s an exciting prospect, said Vaughn, who noted her sole focus for now is to continue to build the brand and become established in the community.

Cannabicity has already formed partnerships with several area nonprofits and has launched a scholarship with SUNY Schenectady County Community College for its soon-to-be-launched culinary cannabis microcredential program.

“Our main focus is to put the customer first and make the experience the best we can,” Vaughn said. “I certainly think we’ll be able to do that.”

For more information on Cannabicity, visit cannabicity.net.

Juniper Li
Juniper Li
Juniper Li, with her roots in documentary filmmaking, brings a unique narrative style to local news reporting. A graduate of NYU’s Journalism program, Ava has a keen eye for stories that capture the essence of community life. Her reporting often highlights local achievements and challenges, drawing on her experience in visual storytelling.
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