One of the First Black-Owned Cannabis Brands Launches in NY

Co-founded by New Yorker Kahlil Lozoraitis, Weekenders is proudly one of the first black-owned cannabis brands to launch in New York. With the legalization of recreational cannabis, the brand is introducing its high quality, artisanal pre-rolls to the Empire State. 

Already available to California residents 21 and older, Weekenders was conceptualized and originally launched from Lozoraitis’ home in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn – the heart of black creative and entrepreneurial excellence. At that time, in 2018, with some like-minded creative partners, he was focused on launching in the legal market of California, but dreamed of the day that he could bring Weekenders back to his home state of New York to turn his California cult favorite into a New York cult classic.

“New York is where I live and when this market really starts to get rolling, I have no doubt that it will be one of the biggest cannabis markets in the world. I wanted to be a part of that right from the start,” Lozoraitis says.

Designing His Way Into the Cannabis Space

Lozoraitis is not new to the business side of things. He is also a founding partner of CityState, with over 15 years of brand strategy and consumer insights experience. His strengths involve converting insights into strategy and communication initiatives. He has led engagements for a range of brands including Stonyfield Farms, Sprout, Hershey’s, Nestlé, Motts, Coke, Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray. 

While operating the boutique design agency in Brooklyn, a number of inquiries were coming in about helping businesses develop brands for the cannabis space. After taking on a few of these projects, Lozoraitis says it became clear that there was space to approach the category in a more thoughtful and design-focused approach. He not only wanted to celebrate the power of the plant, but also the farmers who grow it.

Kahlil Lozoraitis.

One of the First Black-Owned Cannabis Brands in NY

Now, Weekenders has launched in two states and is one of the first black-owned brands to make its debut in New York. Shockingly, black cannabis entrepreneurs still account for less than 2% of the nation’s cannabis businesses. 

“I have often been one of the only black or brown faces in the meeting or boardroom, but when I got into cannabis, I had hoped that would be different. It’s not,” Lozoraitis says. “In fact, there is even less diversity at the executive and ownership levels in cannabis than other industries I have worked in. That has to change.”

Lozoraitis notes that it has also been very challenging keeping up with the cannabis regulations in both California and New York. “You always have to be alert to the updates and changes as the requirements shift within and across states. On our end, we have to manage all of the packaging regulations and differences between the states. 

“From a regulatory perspective, they could have done with having some people on the team who have basic experience in consumer packaged goods, because by not having that, they have made things more complicated.”

A Dedication to Sustainable Farming

Since its inception, Weekenders has become known for its commitment to quality and sustainability, using only the finest locally-sourced flower to create their pre-rolls. The brand grows its craft cannabis on an organic family farm in Hudson Valley. Its cultivator, Burning Bush, a veteran-owned company, honors a legacy of working with nature to create the finest cannabis flower possible.

Previously a water bottling plant, the farm used to bottle their artesian spring water for sale; they now focus on sun-grown, small-batch organic cannabis. The farm, which is a part of the forestry management program and a member of NOFA-NY, uses organic and sustainable practices and only utilizes ground water from spring fed streams to cultivate their sun-grown, terpene-rich cannabis.

Lozoraitis’ relationship with plants and food and where they come from goes back to the beginning. As a child, he helped run a stand at the local farmers market in Central MA, innovating the sale of single plant potted herbs. He is currently on the board of the Rondout Valley Growers Association in the Hudson Valley.

Cannabis Products for Every User

Weekenders offers a range of products to appeal to all types of users, with low THC options for the canna-curious as well as high THC options for more experienced consumers. Some of the brand’s strains include its signature LIFT (Sativa), DREAM (Indica) and GLOW (Hybrid). Each strain comes in 7-joint packs, or a 1G single pre-roll, in either high dose or lose dose options.

Weekenders craft cannabis flower will also be available in half ounces, quarter ounces and dime bags – a classic New York staple. All of the products are proudly packaged in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging, and the brand plans to continue supporting compassion programs in New York as they have pioneered in California. 

In addition to its cannabis products, Weekenders also offers an assortment of lifestyle products, with collaborations including a special edition backgammon board, domino set and custom trays with Wolfum, scratch and sniff cannabis wallpaper by Flavor Paper and more on the way for the holidays. Weekenders has also partnered with The Wild Honey Pie on a series of events through the end of the year, recently appeared at NYFW events and has more exciting New York-based events and partnerships in the works.

Lozoraitis says he definitely plans to launch his brand into more legal states. “Part of our process is identifying the right partners in each state who have shared values and commitment to quality. That said, we will be launching in another East Coast market later this fall and have plans for the MidWest early next year,” he says. 

Weekenders is now available in select dispensaries throughout New York State including Union Square Travel Agency, Housing Works and Gotham. Now being offered in two states, the brand is gearing up to become a national brand, with more legal states in the pipeline.