Elevate Cannabis Dispensary Opens Shop in Mount Vernon

Westchester's first adult-use recreational cannabis dispensary sets the bar high for premium cannabis use in the county.

Elevate Cannabis Dispensary in Mount Vernon joins the list of 77 adult-use cannabis dispensaries across New York State since the recreational legalization in 2021. Elevate, Westchester’s first adult-use dispensary, opened its doors in December 2023 and has since been serving the community for all its cannabis needs.

“We’re excited to try to set the tone for the cannabis industry here in New York,” says Elevate owner John Ruggiero.

Ruggiero and his business partner Chris Carey are Mount Vernon natives, small business owners, and lifelong marijuana enthusiasts. Once the duo decided to embark down the rocky road of opening an adult-use dispensary, they faced two years of multiple state- and city-wide issues as well as a lawsuit that put a pause on their opening process.

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Photo courtesy of Elevate Cannabis Dispensary. Photography by Raymond Beccarelli.

Additionally, the stigma that surrounds the blooming cannabis industry weighed heavy on the process as a whole. When seeking out an ideal storefront in Westchester, the duo found that many cities were hesitant to rent a space out to a dispensary. Certain areas in Westchester are going as far as to opt out of allowing a retail cannabis dispensary to open in their radius.

“Mount Vernon is a progressive city, very accepting. They understood the benefits for the city, and they didn’t shy away from bringing something here that has a stigma around it,” Carey shares.

Once Elevate’s application was submitted, it was selected and approved for the social and economic equity (SEE) program, and the ball officially got rolling in May 2023. The SEE program is an opportunity that was implemented post-legalization in New York State to incentivize individuals who have been impacted by cannabis prohibition to open a dispensary.

“It (marijuana) was always something we felt brought community together and helped break barriers,” notes Ruggiero.

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Photo courtesy of Elevate Cannabis Dispensary. Photography by Raymond Beccarelli.

The staff at Elevate – better known as budtenders – are thoroughly educated on the world of cannabis and its uses for both recreational and medicinal uses. For an enjoyable cannabis experience, the budtenders can guide visitors through the numerous strains, products, and consumption methods that line the shelves. They sell premium edibles, flower, pre-rolls, vaporizers, concentrates, orals, tinctures, topicals, and accessories. The community at Elevate caters to all tastes and experience levels and welcomes individuals who are curious as to how cannabis can benefit their lives.

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“We do a lot of work educating our staff here, so they understand the different uses of marijuana,” says Ruggiero.

Most of the shop’s diverse clientele ranges from 35- to 60-year-olds who are seeking cannabis products for a variety of reasons, whether that’s to soothe cancer symptoms, aid sleeping, or use recreationally. The duo has been pleasantly surprised by the number of customers who are in search of pain management and hoping to alleviate their cancer symptoms with the store’s products. The ability to provide Westchester with safe, legal cannabis and educate customers is at the forefront of their mission, and they hope to expand operations throughout Westchester.

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Photo courtesy of Elevate Cannabis Dispensary. Photography by Raymond Beccarelli.

Not only are there new faces from northern Westchester trickling down to Mount Vernon, but Ruggiero notes that since word got out about their opening, they have seen customers driving an hour or two to purchase safe products. Previously, if local consumers wanted to get their hands on safe and legal cannabis, they had to trek into Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis has been legalized since December of 2016.

The ambiance of the shop is very welcoming with light-up décor, products on display, and ’80s music bumping on the speakers. Customers also have the option of placing an online order to pick up or scheduling a delivery.

“We love for you to come in, check out the vibe we set, and get educated on it all,” adds Ruggiero.

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Elevate Cannabis Dispensary
127 South Terrace Ave, Mount Vernon; 914.966.1001

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