HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — A prominent Harlem business group is suing to prevent the opening of a legal recreational marijuana store.
The marijuana store would be basically right across from the Apollo Theater. The lawsuit claims everything from the community engagement to the landlord is problematic.
Bobby Derek, whose children’s clothing store Lazarus would be neighbors with the legal pot shop, said it opening just a few storefronts down from him is not right.
“I think it’s going to bring a wrong element, and it’s bad for the area where there is a children’s store and family shopping. It should not be on the main drag and should be off the beaten path,” Derek said.
Derek is part of the 125th Street Business Improvement District that has now sued to stop the pot shop from opening.
The suit says it’s not just the location that’s wrong; it also alleges the landlord there is the same one renting to an illegal pot shop a few blocks away. That shop was the scene of an execution-style homicide a few weeks ago.
Harlem State Sen. Cordell Cleare said the community engagement leading up to this decision was all wrong.
“We did not do this right going in,” Cleare said. “Everyone should have been at the table where concerns could’ve been addressed. Maybe those concerns could have been addressed, maybe there is nothing to worry about and there’s no need to worry, but we should’ve known that going in.”
PIX11 News could not get in contact with the landlord, nor any other companies named in the lawsuit. There isn’t much about either company posted online.
A spokesman for New York State Cannabis Control Board, which grants the licenses, said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation.
However, at launch events around New York City recently, officials for the state have said that making sure marijuana money flows into communities most impacted by the war on drugs, like Harlem, is a priority.