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Harlem business group fighting state plans for cannabis dispensary across from Apollo Theater

Harlem business group fighting state plans for cannabis dispensary
Harlem business group fighting state plans for cannabis dispensary 02:02

NEW YORK -- A Harlem business group is fighting against plans for a cannabis dispensary.

The state wants to open a dispensary in a building on 125th Street right across from the Apollo Theater.

As CBS2's Alecia Reid reports, the lawsuit is a first of its kind.

The fate of the building hangs in the balance after the 125th Street Business Improvement District took its concerns to the state Supreme Court.

"We've taken this action to really create transparency and to create a channel of communication to understand why this location," said Mukaram Taheraly, chairman of the 125th Street BID.

This is the first case challenging the process state regulators use to choose dispensary locations.

The BID claims the process was conducted secretly in order to avoid opposition from the community.

"We just wanna know why the decision was taken really without consulting us," Taheraly said.

The lawsuit accused the state of violating its own law against having a dispensary within 500 feet of a school, with Touro College, which teaches high school students, just a few doors away.

Some believe it will lead to a rise in crime.

"We don't wanna taint the area anymore than it is," one street vendor said.

But others think it'll be good for the community.

"If they're giving people jobs, I might come there and work," one Harlem resident said.

"They will have customers that feel like this is an establishment I can really go in and feel safe," Harlem resident Breeze Fabre said.

The BID is not completely against a dispensary in Harlem. They recommend it be placed inside the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, which is owned by the state, so security and a safe environment can be provided for customers.

"This is perhaps those situation where there is no right answer, but before we go forward, I think all the major stakeholders, their positions, should be considered," Harlem resident Muna Heaven said.

We reached out to both parties being sued. The Office of Cannabis Management says they do not comment on pending litigation, and the New York State Dormitory Authority has no comment at this time.

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