Over the holiday weekend, a group of New York City bodega owners held a rally in the Bronx demanding to be allowed to sell marijuana following the drug’s impending legalization in New York state. “Rather than drug peddling outside of these bodegas, we want to bring them inside,” United Bodegas of America spokesman Fernando Mateo told attendees. “Allow us to become a wholesaler. In other words, let us cut out the middle man.”
Mateo is absolutely right. Bring weed to the bodegas and you’ll bring happiness to New Yorkers everywhere.
If you’ve been to any of the states where weed has been legal for a while (Washington, California, Colorado, Oregon, etc.), you may have been to one of the almost antiseptic weed shops there, which are usually run by well-to-do white entrepreneurs cashing in on the so-called green rush.
Sure, these stores have weed in every form imaginable, but do they have a cat? Do they have bacon, egg, and cheeses on a roll, made fresh? Do they somehow have every single flavor of Ben & Jerry’s except Americone Dream? Do they have personal-sized boxes of Cheez-It and Oreos? You know the answers.
It would make all the sense in the world to bring legal weed to bodegas. There are 15,000 bodegas in New York City — dozens in every single neighborhood. A fancy weed shop’s first stop won’t be in, say, Jackson Heights, Queens. But that neighborhood sure has a lot of bodegas!
Of course, there are reasons to be concerned. Bodegas aren’t the most regulated storefronts in New York City. Certain shop owners have made small fortunes illegally selling loosies, packs of cigarettes smuggled in from down south, and K2, a.k.a. synthetic marijuana. But Governor Cuomo promises that with legal weed there will also be a regulatory body known as the Office of Cannabis Management. Our guess is that it’ll be like the health department, but for bodegas and other weed shops: A = very dank kush; C = mostly buds and stems.
All jokes aside: New York City is ready for legal weed. The NYPD isn’t even arresting non-criminals for smoking in public anymore. And New York could start legalization on the right foot by giving the city’s many immigrant- and minority-owned bodegas a chance to reap as much of the benefits when weed becomes legal in New York City as the Apple Store-like dispensaries that are getting ready to transition from selling strictly medical marijuana to recreational weed, as well. (The city, after all, needs coffee in Greek paper cups as much as if not more than it needs Blue Bottle and Stumptown.)
The infrastructure is there, as is the enthusiasm. Plus, bodegas already have the munchies part covered.