ASTORIA, N.Y. - Jeremy Rivera has been pouring his life into his new business, Terp Bros. It’s a recreational marijuana dispensary on Ditmars Avenue in Astoria, Queens, and it was supposed to open back on August 15th.
But he and about two dozen other New York businesses that were also essentially ready to open are stuck in limbo—through no fault of their own.
"What else can I provide for them," Rivera asks. "My bone marrow? Do you want my kidneys?"
In early August, a judge ruled that due to a pending lawsuit no new retail dispensaries would be allowed to open. But last week, the judge said those roughly two dozen businesses that were already close to opening could, in fact, still do so. Now the judge has reversed course again, asking for evidence from the state Office of Cannabis Management that those retailers have met all licensing requirements.
Rivera—who was chosen by the state to be one of the first legal recreational dispensaries due to a prior cannabis conviction—says his entire business is now at risk. And because of that, he says, so is his family’s livelihood.
He will soon have to pay the vendors and pay his monthly expenses. Realistically, he says, he might only be able to stay afloat for "another week or two."
He believes that eventually he will be given approval to open. As he understands it, it is now up to the state Office of Cannabis Management to supply the necessary paperwork to the judge. We reached to OCM, but did not hear back.
So, for now, Rivera's hands remain tied.
"They put us underwater. They put a cage in front of us. Now every day we are scrambling just to get another breath of fresh air."