Florist Farms Lights Up the NYS Cannabis Industry
“It was the best day of my life, to be honest,” said Karli Miller-Hornick.
The cannabis entrepreneur and founder of Florist Farms, a Rev member startup growing and creating organic cannabis products, is talking about December 29, 2022. She, along with hundreds of other cannabis innovators and enthusiasts, made the trek to New York City to celebrate the grand opening of Housing Works Cannabis Co, the first adult-use cannabis dispensary in New York State.
The opening, which occurred just in time to meet the state’s goal of opening a dispensary in 2022, marked the very first time Florist Farms products were sold on shelves. It was also the culmination of years of advocacy, lobbying, and paperwork on the part of Miller-Hornick and countless other entrepreneurs and activists like her.
“I had no idea it would be such global news,” Miller-Hornick said. “A Florist Farms product was the very first one to be sold in the state, and the New York Times article the next day featured a photo of our jar. The energy was so incredible, just hanging out at the front of the line and talking to people who were waiting to go inside – it was so exciting.”
The regenerative cannabis company, which sells flower, pre-rolled joints, edible cannabis gummies, and rechargeable vapes, is based entirely out of Cortland, New York. After receiving one of the first adult-use licenses to grow cannabis in May 2022, Miller-Hornick and her team jumped into action in order to harvest and process their products in time to be tested by third-party labs and distributed in dispensaries by the end of the year.
“I’m really proud of what we accomplished,” she said. “It was crazy, everything from compliance inspectors auditing our facilities and working with third-party labs to test our products, but it was all so worth it.”
A few months later and a little closer to home, Miller-Hornick had yet another “best day of her life” as Ithaca, New York celebrated the opening of its first adult-use cannabis dispensary on March 16th. At 4:20 PM, the doors opened to William Jane, located on the Ithaca Commons. Dozens of Ithacans eagerly waited in line for the opening, ready to view the full Florist Farms product line.
Miller-Hornick, a 2011 grad of the Cornell University School of Hotel Management, says she spent years visiting the headshops in the Commons that existed long before dispensaries began to open.
“The Commons were really filled with great little hippy headshops. I loved them and always thought, ‘someday, these will become dispensaries.’ I never thought that would happen in my lifetime, or that my products would be on the shelves, but I am so happy and grateful that it has,” she said. “I’m excited to see the Commons get revitalized as the dispensary draws more and more people downtown, improving the experience and increasing traffic to strengthen our local economy.”
Miller-Hornick, who also owns CBD company Head & Heal alongside cannabis activist and farmer Allan Gandelman, has spent her career fighting for marijuana legalization and the development of an equitable cannabis industry in New York State. Head & Heal, which recently expanded into functional cannabis products, had products on the shelves of William Jane as well.
Florist Farms is also making a significant economic impact on the region, revitalizing downtown Cortland and employing over 50 local workers – with plans to double their workforce by the end of year. Through Florist Farms and Head and Heal, Miller-Hornick and Gandelman both work to give back to their community and foster a relationship with the people around them. For nearly 10 years, they’ve made weekly vegetable donations to low-income families, and their extraction facilities and offices are in buildings that previously stood empty for decades.
“We’ve seen that year over year, Cortland’s businesses are leaving and industries are leaving,” she said. “We’ve been part of this community for the last 10 years, and really work to do good by bringing jobs and making Cortland a great place to live. Because we do that, the members of this community show up and support us in such big ways.”
Miller-Hornick also spoke to support and resources she’s utilized as a Rev member startup, including receiving advice from entrepreneurs-in-residence and connecting with other local entrepreneurs who have brought their products to market.
“We’ve learned really heavily on our EIRs for everything from developing pitch plans to reviewing legal documents,” she said. “I really don’t know if any of this would have happened without Rev. We pitched Head & Heal at a networking night back in 2018, and a Wegmans buyer happened to be in the audience. We had a meeting 48 hours later and scrambled to get our presentation together, but now we’re the top CBD brand in Wegmans.”
When looking towards what’s next for Miller-Hornick, the cannabis mogul has already launched two other brands — Blotter, a cannabis concentrate product, and Tune, a line of hemp-infused seltzers. She’s made headlines in countless media outlets, presented at the Revelry cannabis conference in New York City, and has gained nearly 1 million views on TikTok for her updates on the state of cannabis in New York.
“There’s so much potential for growth in this industry,” Miller-Hornick says. “I’m really excited to see where Florist Farms goes next.”