BY ADAM ATKINSON North Country This Week POTSDAM -- The village's first cannabis dispensary, The Highest Peak at 25 Market St., will officially open for business Thursday, Dec. 7. The shop's opening …
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
POTSDAM -- The village's first cannabis dispensary, The Highest Peak at 25 Market St., will officially open for business Thursday, Dec. 7.
The shop's opening has been stalled by months of legal wrangling between the State Supreme Court and the state Office of Cannabis Management, but after Thursday the wait for The Highest Peak is over.
The owners, Aurora Wood and Kinsey LaPointe, are planning a grand opening day Thursday, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. A DJ will be playing music and shop clerks will be on hand to educate the public on the health benefits of using cannabis. The new cannabis store will offer pre-packaged state-approved cannabis and CBD products from specifically approved growers. No consumption will be allowed on the site, under state law. Patrons must be 21 and older.
It's been a slow burn leading up to The Highest Peak's opening day. LaPointe and Wood have been working on setting up shop since getting their site plan approved by the village last spring. They initially were pushing for a July opening date, but the state had other plans.
The state-managed process of obtaining a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license to legally sell cannabis in an approved store space comes with a certain amount of red tape and bureaucracy to wade through. Read more about that at https://bit.ly/3IF9fm3.
Add to the normally time consuming process a ruling in August by State Supreme Court Judge Kevin Bryant that halted approvals for state CAURD licensees to open shops. Twenty-three shops which were initially given the go ahead and then stopped from moving forward by the moratorium, including The Highest Peak, were left to be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Office of Cannabis Management and the court.
LaPointe said it was a “sad Tuesday” when they were notified then they would not be able to open as planned. “But now we officially have our approval so there is no ifs, ands or buts about it,” she said.
Bryant's injunction was leveled in response to a group of veterans suing the state over New York’s cannabis business licensing rules which the veterans said were unfair in limiting the initial round of licenses to people with prior marijuana convictions and leaving out a wider group of applicants who were to be included in the original law.
Over the last several weeks, while the OCM and the court tangled in the red tape, Wood and LaPointe were left gathering receipts and any records they would need to present to the court for further consideration of approval. And then wait.
LaPointe and Wood were hopeful they would get an approval after court reconvened in September but that timeline stretched out longer than expected until they were given the nod last Saturday from the OCM.
The shop is one of the first in the state to open with a license number of 00025.
“And we are the first women-owned dispensary in the entire North Country,” Wood said.
LaPointe emphasized also that the pair self-funded the remodeling and setup work on the building (which was spearheaded by their husbands Adam Wood and Jordan LaPointe), rent and other costs after obtaining their CAURD licenses. This is in contrast to other shops around the state which presumably will receive the majority of their financial support through the state Dormitory Authority which is charged with setting up shops for CAURD holders to operate and fund their operations at least initially.
Wood said they hired the majority of The Highest Peak’s sales staff in July and many of the employees have waited along with the pair to get the approval to open.
“We are really happy with the crew we have right now,” Wood said.
“And we’ve worked really, really hard to make this a place of education on the health benefits of cannabis,” she said. The staff is trained by the state-approved cannabis suppliers who supply product for the shop and educated on various strains, concentrations and product uses.
The Highest Peak is ideally located in the center of the downtown business district in a high traffic location at the site of part of the former Northern Music and Video store.
LaPointe and Wood said they have received “big support” from the local community as they have been trying to open their doors, and they have been working with other local businesses during the process.
“I anticipate we will be pretty well received,” LaPointe said, based on the feedback the business partners have received from the public thus far.
To learn more about the shop visit https://www.highestpeakny.com/ , or find them on Instagram at https://instagram.com/thehighestpeakny?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA== or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/highestpeakny?mibextid=LQQJ4d .`