Bodegas, the iconic independently-owned corner stores of New York City, sell everything from snacks to cigarettes to lotto tickets, and now if the thousands of bodega owners in the city get their way, they could soon be selling marijuana when it’s legalized in the state.
Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of New York. Mr. Cuomo’s plan includes priorities for women and minority-owned businesses to receive marijuana licenses, as well as sealing records for those with prior cannabis criminal convictions. In response to this, the United Bodegas of America held a press conference Sunday morning in front of Anthony’s Mini Market, a bodega in the Bronx. According to Gothamist, bodega owners are arguing that they, as well as their communities, should benefit from the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York.
"All this money should not go to white-owned businesses. It should not go to corporate America. It should be shared with the underdogs." Fernando Mateo, a spokesman of the United Bodegas of America, told reporters at the press conference. He was referring to a trend where the majority of the beneficiaries of the cannabis ‘Green Boom’ are affluent white people, and not those hit hardest by the war on drugs.
"Bodega owners are honest, hard-working people who employ over 100,000 people in the NYC area alone, we deserve to participate in this new opportunity," United Bodegas of America president Radames Rodriguez said in a statement.
Bodega owners already follow a litany of rules and regulations where it comes to selling tobacco and alcohol. "We will follow the rules, the regulations and we will make sure that none of that is broken," Mateo said. "But allow us to be part of a new industry that is coming into the city.”