Harlem community divided on proposed cannabis dispensary location near children's stores

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Thursday, January 26, 2023
Harlem community divided on proposed cannabis dispensary location
Some community members are pushing back on New York state's proposed cannabis dispensary location in Harlem. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Some community members are on the fence about New York state's latest cannabis dispensary location in Harlem.

As New York state rolls out its legal cannabis distribution several dispensaries are set to open around the city.

"I don't think it's going to bother the community any kind of way because everybody smokes weed," Harlem resident Lemart Williams said.

While some are celebrating the new addition to the neighborhood, other residents in Harlem think the 125th Street location should be reconsidered.

Some residents are concerned that the proposed location is too close to several businesses and cultural centers that bring a lot of young people to the area.

"If it has to come yes, but not by a children's store, it sends mixed messages," said Lisa Johnson who works at Lazarus Clothing Store, which is two doors down from the dispensary.

New Yorkers enthusiastically lined up at the state's first two dispensaries in the village to buy weed products, but the rollout for others wanting in on the game has been slow and sometimes riddled with smoke and mirrors.

On the flip side so-called smoke shops illegally selling product we counted at least eight here along 125th street.

This dispensary would not be that.

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"I'm okay with brick-and-mortar places versus all the other underground channels people are trying to access it," said Harlem resident Laurie Paguio.

Some opponents compare what's happening now to the push in the 90s to flood Harlem with alcohol and cigarette ads.

"In real estate location is key, in community building societal value is also important," said a press release from an opposing group.

The community board is holding public comment Thursday night.

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