ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Ryan Martin was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in 2000.

“It wasn’t a high point in my life at that time,” said Martin, owner of MJ Dispensary.

But now, it’s helping him in ways he never thought possible.

“Here we are 23 years later where that is actually coming into my life in a positive fashion which is, you know, ironic to say the least,” said Martin.

After being arrested on Clinton Avenue more than two decades ago, Martin is now one of the first seven businesses in the Greater Rochester area to be awarded a legal CAURD license.

“The fact that I lived in 14608 zip code, which is 82% minority, helped me to be pushed through to be one of the top graded people here in the Finger Lakes,” Martin said.

Martin has been growing cannabis for 20 years but now he will go from breaking the law to helping the industry.

“I’ve been a grower from seed to sale in the legacy market for decades so I’m actually going from legacy to legal,” he said. “Like divine intervention almost that something like that happened to me and then years later it’s a positive thing. Because cannabis has been a part of my life for you know, decades.”

Making the growing cannabis industry in New York something important to him.

“When I knew they were going to do it in a social equity fashion I knew I wanted to be a part of it and help out my community,” Martin said.

Now Martin is using his story to connect with others in the industry.

“So instead of hustling for myself, now I’m hustling for New York state,” he said.

And he hopes someday other states will help change lives like his.

“Hopefully other states can follow suit with something like that to help people who actually need that type of help,” said Martin.

 There are 7 marijuana CAURD licenses in the Finger Lakes.  Read More