Say NO FOR 125th Street: WSJ says Marijuana Legislation Is Not Going As Planned

Say NO FOR 125th Street: WSJ says Marijuana Legislation Is Not Going As Planned

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125th Street BID started this petition


A Cannabis Dispensary on 125th Street has great potential for unintentional consequences and outcomes according to Wall Street Journal Editorial Opinion:  Editorial Report.  Click here to see video.

Please sign this petition to Governor Kathy Hochul opposing a location of a cannabis dispensary 248 West 125th Street across from the World Famous Apollo Theater, one door from a children's store, directly across the street from a second children's store and across the street from the World Famed Apollo Theater and the new to open Victoria Theater that will house the first full service hotel on 125th Street in the village of Harlem.


125th Street is special to many and we do not want to lose its uniqueness and value as a cultural icon for the great village of Harlem.  Please note we are NOT asking you for a donation.  We trust after you review the facts that we are presenting below, you will be able to sign the petition. 


Late last Wednesday (12/7/22) afternoon, with no notice, Harlem’s business leaders and the community learned from media accounts that the State had decided to locate its first Cannabis Dispensary in New York State at 248 West 125th Street.  This site, on Harlem’s storied commercial strip and across the street from the historic Apollo Theater, will allegedly open by the end of the month.  We are urging the Governor to reconsider.

Rationale for the Request 

1.   We are not taking a position against marijuana dispensaries and do not have a problem with one coming to Harlem.  125th Street is not the right block. We want the Governor to understand the challenges we continue to face. Currently, 125th Street requires significant resources to keep it clean and safe.

Just a little over 2 weeks ago, 50 officers were deployed on the street to address some of the issues.  Harlem was hit hard by the pandemic and the effects on 125th Street are still being felt, as we have outlined below. Recovery requires a tremendous amount of daily and ongoing work from city agencies and the BID just to keep us from falling back.  Lastly, 125th Street cannot lose its brand and its goal to become a cultural destination with many entertainment and cultural events that capture and preserve that culture and history.

2.   Likely impacts if the dispensary is to come to 125th Street

·      Increased loitering, which is not against the law in NYC.
As with other new businesses that have come to 125th Street – any business that attracts a large amount of people – that attraction includes increased street vending, increased drug activity in that area, fighting for spots by street vendors, increased litter, attraction of weed vehicles and food trucks, double parking issues, increased larceny to the person.

·      Increased negative interactions between drug dealers and the mentally ill  

·      Increased lines of people waiting on the street. 
With the newly opened Chick Fil A, we already have those lines.  How will the dispensary lines be managed?  Will the lines with dispensary customers block the entrances of the other businesses on the street?

·      Increased pan handling of dispensary customers.
How will that be handled?

·      Increased gang rivalries.
125th Street is a major attraction, and it also attracts gangs.  When they encounter each other, incidents occur which in the past have led to violence and death. 

·      Need for increase resources to mitigate these negative impacts.
Where will these resources come from?

3.   The first dispensary in Harlem should not be placed on 125th Street across from the Apollo and the State developed Victoria Theater.  The problems that plagues 125th Street is only a microcosm of what other parts of the neighborhood are facing.  Since the announcement, many have suggested that the dispensary should be in a location that is in direct view of a NYPD police precinct such as the 28th or 32nd .  

4.   The announcement was made without significant community outreach. Considerable opposition to the 125th Street location is developing as more organizations (including the Community Boards) and residents learn of the Governor’s decision. 

5.   Moving forward would derail the efforts that are already in place and have significant support in the Community and in city government.  We have had significant success, but the work is not complete.

The working strategy includes:

·      Creating a 125th Street Storefront Hub for meetings and to gather input from the community.

·      .Interagency Collaboration Initiative with City Agencies, Elected Officials, Service providers, business and property owners .  

·      Serving as Co-Chair of Manhattan Alvin Bragg’s Small Business Alliance to address shoplifting.

·      Engagement with Clergy. Business, Community, and Service Provider to integrate them into the discussions and seek solutions. 

·      Research to develop specific initiatives to tackle these problems include help for special needs population; trash, rats and illegal dumping; multiagency coordination; shoplifting and in store disturbances; traffic and public safety.   

6.   Lastly, the State can also be a partner.  

The State has made substantial new investments in 125th Street – Victoria Theater Development, Urban League Development, National Black Theater and Studio Museum, considerable presence in the district with the State Office Building and State Agencies To bring 125th Street to where it should be we need all stakeholders participating in this effort.  

Problems on the Street Scape

As part of Mayor Adams’ multi-agency community task force that has been working to address Harlem’s serious crime and quality of life crisis, we are  extremely concerned that the Governor's administration seems not to be aware of the challenges we are facing.  This dispensary will not only derail the progress that we has been made, it will also set us back in several areas.  

Since the COVID19 shutdowns, our community has been plagued by gun violence, open trafficking and use of narcotics, shoplifting, gang rivalry, oversaturation of service facilities, garbage and graffiti problems, and so much more.  Our working strategy includes creating a 125th Street Storefront Hub to hold regular meetings and to gather input from the community.  Our Interagency Collaboration Initiative has brought together City Agencies, Elected Officials, service providers, local clergy, and business and property owners to ensure our myriad concerns are addressed and to assist agencies in developing their strategies for coordination.  While our problems are not solved, we have made real progress. Today, however, we still face:

·      Extensive shoplifting all day long (some businesses have already left, and businesses are investing in more private security – one specifically is spending over $1.2 million a year and the shoplifting is continuing)

·      Drug dealing on sidewalks, from bicycles, and inside businesses.  A few examples:

(1) A Shooting in front of a smoke shop. When one gang member saw another one in that shop he pulled out his weapon and started shooting.  Innocent people on the sidewalk were shot, employees quit because of fear. 

(2) A Shooting in front and across from where the dispensary is to be located. One gang member encountered another gang member and started shooting, causing people on the street to run into stores, fearing for their lives. One person was shot in the leg.  One comment from the Community – “the Cannabis shop on 125th Street will be the Smoke Shop on steroids.”  The community’s fear is understandable and real. 

(3) ) A Shooting and murder near the Apollo when a group attacked a person carrying drugs, trying to take the drugs  from him.  He fought to keep his drugs and was shot and killed in broad daylight next to the Apollo.

(4) The 125th Street BID’s sanitation worker was caught in a crossfire shooting while cleaning the street. He has not been able to return to work.  

(5) Other activities in the streetscape on 125th Street  include:

·      drug use in the vestibule of businesses and atm banks and bathrooms of businesses.  Banks on 125th Street close their ATM’s early and some do not open them at night anymore.

·      sex in elevators going to second floors of business and in bathrooms of businesses. Disturbances inside of the stores

·      storefront, kiosks, bus shelter bashings .

·      Increased numbers of homeless on the street. 

·      Graffiti on buildings and storefront glass.

·      Increase number of mentally ill people on the street.

·      Double parking – currently there is one day of enforcement.  The remainder of the days 125th Street experiences double and triple parking.

·      Illegal street vending

·      Oversaturation of special needs populations

·      Trash, illegal dumping and rats

·      Infrastructure is 30 years old and in need of repairs.  



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