Residents in Mount Vernon are rallying against the possibility of a new cannabis store opening on Third Street and 4th Avenue – an area known for being a crime hotspot.
Demonstrators say they take issue with the choice of location, not the idea of a dispensary opening in the city.
“Third street is a hotspot. Everybody knows what goes on with the gunshots and the robberies, stabbings and killings. Why would you put a dispensary here on the corner? Bad location,” said community activist Jesse Van Lew.
Longtime resident Billy Garland brought his 9-year-old granddaughter Gianna along to the demonstration.
“It’s important that she knows if we come together, we can make a change. She needs to know what’s going on around her community,” he said.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard stated several months ago that she supports the opportunity that medical marijuana sales would bring to her city.
A minority-owned cannabis cultivation and dispensary company has already expressed interest in opening inside the 100,000-square-foot building.
The company’s spokesmen say they’re ready to transform what they call a “blighted area” into a wellness business selling medical marijuana.
However, not everyone is convinced.
“I’m not against the cannabis, I just don’t feel like it should be here. We’re always having problems down the street, the drug activity here. They just need to put it in a different place,” said Mount Vernon resident Sylvia Tyree.
Mount Vernon City Spokesman Tim Allen insists, “There are no proposals for a cannabis dispensary there.”
He says the area is retail-zoned for whatever business opportunity that present itself.