Vibe Report: What’s Happening at NYC’s First Legal Cannabis Store?

Over the past year or so, I have had the good fortune to become intimately acquainted with the topography of this great nation, via the two solo road trip and random encounters of long distance relationships that took me everywhere from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Portland, Oregon, but actually Maine too, now that I think about it. I’ve stayed in big cities and small towns, laid my head in thermal spas and creepy Airbnbs, and eaten more bites of Starbucks eggs than I can total, but if I were to assign a theme to my travels, it would be the following question: What is the weed situation at my next destination?

There’s something about describing your weed consumption (even as a reasonably responsible adult) that can make you feel exactly like a 14-year-old skateboarder brother bragging about how he totally branded with ganja primo, but what to say? Early mornings and red-eye flights had a real impact on my ability to drink before a day of travel, and given the increasing legality of marijuana in the US, I’ve learned to replace my evening wine glass by chewing gum or half a joint before curing a bit of reality TV.

In Southern California, where I spent November with my partner, getting weed is ridiculously easy; the state legalized the use, sale, and cultivation of recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older in 2016, and at this point LA is absolutely saturated with dispensaries. (Seriously, there might be more weed “collectives” there than Starbucks locations.) Driving home, however, presented a problem: The marijuana I’d bought legally in California was still illegal in California. Texas, where I live; and although marijuana has been legal in Arizona for “adult personal use” since 2020, and New Mexico legalized recreational use a year later, if I had driven all the way to Utah – like I was considering doing it to meet a friend in Moab – my weed would have been a problem, just like when I traveled to Marfa, TX to crash at a friend of a friend’s guest house and that I left everything I had bought in front of a border inspection station in El Paso.

In New York, the state where I grew up and where most of my friends and family still live, the recreational use of marijuana was legalized in 2021; in fact, my best friend lives upstate and works at a dispensary just across the border from Massachusetts, where savvy New York smokers have been picking up their (legal) weed for years. In New York, however, the landscape of (roughly) legal weed has long been defined by the ubiquitous “weed bodega,” which Braked Writer Bridget Read described last year as a “sticky, snack-filled convenience store vendor, like the usual bodega-smoking cousin.”

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