First upstate legal cannabis dispensary opens in Binghamton; Finger Lakes Region still left out of licensing process 

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The first legal marijuana dispensary in Upstate New York will open on Friday in Binghamton and will be the closest legal option for folks looking to purchase cannabis products legally. 

Just Breathe at 75 Court Street in Binghamton will be owned and operated by a partnership between local entrepreneur, Damien Cornwell, and the Non-Profit Broome County Urban League. Cornwell has spearheaded initiatives with the Urban League in the past, providing justice-involved individuals with resources, education and pathways to careers. The store will open in the same location as a currently licensed cannabinoid hemp retailer.

A federal injunction currently prevents New York State from issuing licenses in 5 regions across New York, including the Finger Lakes.  In November, an applicant from Michigan sued the NYS Office of Cannabis Management alleging the requirement that cannabis retail applicants have both a significant presence in New York and a criminal record for a marijuana-related conviction in New York, violates a federal law that prevents states from discriminating against out-of-state businesses.    

License applicants had to choose 5 geographical regions in which they would wat to open a dispensary when applying and the Michigan business owner chose the Finger Lakes, Brooklyn, Central New York, Mid-Hudson and Western New York.  While the federal court proceedings continue in the case, federal Judge Gary Sharpe granted a temporary restraining order that blocks the state from issuing licenses in those regions.  Last week, NYS asked for that restraining order to be tossed out, the judge denied that request. 

Jayson and Britni Tantalo are the owners of Flower City Hydroponics and applied for a license to open Flower City Dispensary in the Rochester region, “It’s heartbreaking because we are on this campaign for legal cannabis and just knowing that we have such a long, uphill battle… it’s defeating,” Jayson says, “I wouldn’t want to say it’s not worth it, it’s just a matter of what’s going to transpire and how long it’s going to take.”

More about cannabis licenses:

See our series “Cannabis Countdown” about what NYS can expect as dispensaries open: