Westchester's first cannabis dispensary prepares to open despite legal hurdles

The team behind Elevate Cannabis, on South Terrace Avenue in Mount Vernon, finds themselves in a holding pattern as they await the judge's verdict.

News 12 Staff

Aug 9, 2023, 9:51 AM

Updated 290 days ago

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The proprietors of what is poised to become Westchester's first retail cannabis dispensary are gearing up for its launch, even as a New York State Supreme Court judge's ruling has effectively halted the issuance of retail marijuana licenses due to an ongoing lawsuit.
The team behind Elevate Cannabis, on South Terrace Avenue in Mount Vernon, finds themselves in a holding pattern as they await the judge's verdict. This delay is the direct outcome of the pending lawsuit.
On Monday, the judge issued an order temporarily preventing the state from granting any new retail licenses or offering operational approvals to establishments that already possess them. This development followed a lawsuit initiated by four disabled military veterans.
In New York's recreational marijuana program, priority for the initial round of licenses is given to individuals with previous drug convictions or specific categories of nonprofit groups, aimed at fostering social equity. However, the veterans contend that this approach violates the state constitution, asserting that regulators have not adhered to New York's Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act by excluding disabled service veterans and other minority groups from license consideration.
Despite the lawsuit's unresolved status, the individuals associated with Elevate Cannabis, including owner John Ruggiero, continue their preparations. Notably, they plan to conduct a hiring event this upcoming Saturday from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the intention of launching the online facet of their business within the following weeks.
Ruggiero emphasized, "We're aiming to hire about 30 to 35 people. We're close, you know, we're striving to provide employment opportunities to the community and assist individuals."
The state's legal licensing program has faced substantial challenges, leading to the emergence of unauthorized marijuana retailers with unlicensed sellers. A judge in Kingston is scheduled to preside over arguments pertaining to this lawsuit on Friday.


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