Future retail cannabis dispensary in Mount Vernon 'moving ahead' despite statewide injunction

The court ruling followed a lawsuit filed by a group of four disabled military veterans who claimed the process of awarding licenses to specific groups of people violates the state Constitution.

Jonathan Gordon

Aug 9, 2023, 12:11 AM

Updated 292 days ago

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What is expected to be Westchester's first retail cannabis dispensary is preparing for all possibilities after a state Supreme Court judge issued an order Monday barring the New York Office of Cannabis Management from issuing new retail licenses and granting operational approvals for businesses with existing ones.
Elevate Cannabis owner John Ruggiero secured his retail license in May and said the state verbally told him he's in compliance with the law so he's prepared to open on Sept. 1.
Ruggiero is still waiting for that approval in writing, making it unclear whether Monday's ruling could delay his plans.
"It was a long process. An uphill battle. But we're getting close," said Ruggiero.
On Saturday, Elevate Cannabis, located at 127 South Terrace Ave. in Mount Vernon, will hold a job fair starting at 10 a.m. The business is looking to hire 30-35 positions, including budtenders, who assist customers in the store, as well as security and delivery drivers.
Ruggiero believes the injunction only applies to "brick and mortar" stores not the online side of his business, so he wants to have a staff in place.
"We're trying to bring jobs to the community and help people," said Ruggiero.
The court ruling followed a lawsuit filed by a group of four disabled military veterans who claimed the process of awarding licenses to specific groups of people violates the state Constitution.
New York was initially awarding the first retail licenses to people convicted of a drug-related offense or close relatives as a way to improve social equity.
"It is a version of social equity that has been conjured up by non-elected officials who are, as administrators, not authorized to make such social and economic policy decisions," reads one line in the 18-page complaint filed on August 2.
Both sides will present oral arguments before a judge in Ulster County on Friday.
The judge could rule to overturn, stay, or modify the injunction.


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