New Yorkers followed their noses — and the smoke and fresh scent of marijuana — along East 8th Street and Broadway in the East Village Thursday as they lined up for the very first legal cannabis dispensary, which appropriately opened to the public at exactly 4:20 p.m.
The first man waiting outside the doors of the Housing Works Cannabis Co. dispensary on 750 Broadway considered himself a lucky person to experience history in the making.
Ken Woodin said he arrived at noon and has been following the opening of a legal weed dispensary via the news. In addition to wanting to take part in the new era of legalized marijuana, he also yearned to support Housing Works for their nonprofit agenda giving back the earnings to their organization that aids those struggling with addiction, homelessness, and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.
“I’ve been waiting for it,” Woodin told amNewYorkMetro. “It means that I don’t have to worry about pesticides and whether it has stuff in it. I can have a consistent product.”
While Woodin feels at ease knowing that the product he is purchasing is safe, he is also breathing a sigh of relief now that the drug is decriminalized.
“I don’t know if I’m judgment free, but I don’t have to go to jail,” Woodin said.
Tegan Reed, 22, originally from North Carolina, learned about the site from a family member and looked to purchase marijuana legally at a location that did not require a medical card.
She shared that the legalized site makes her feel at ease since she says had seen numerous areas sell cannabis that is laced or contains harmful toxins.
“I would say that it is because my husband, he lives up here and we come up here very often and as somebody who likes to smoke, it’s nice to have somewhere that I can go that’s not asking for a medical card,” Reed said.
“I actually saw a lot of people selling either Delta eight or a lot of fake stuff that has been out and it hurts people a lot. And so I think that it’s really important for them to have this place, because it’s going to make a lot of people smoke safer and legally,” Reed added.
Knowing that the money is going toward helping those in need enticed Tegan to spend more at the dispensary. She is looking to purchase a vape pen and joint.
“It actually makes me want to spend more because of the fact that the people who are going to be getting out of jail and all of this is amazing. I think that that is an absolutely great cause and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a dispensary,” Reed said.
For some like Queens resident Peter Alba, 62 — who has been smoking the plant since he was 13-years-old — this grand opening has been long overdue. He shared that a lot of people have suffered over the criminalization of marijuana, but adds that right now he wants to focus on the silver lining — convenience.
“It’s a long time overdue, man! I’m 62 years old. I’ve been smoking weed since I was 13 and it’s keeping me young,” Alba said. “I’m looking at the convenience. I want to be able to walk up out the door. If you are a drinker and you want a bottle of scotch, there is a liquor store on every corner. I just want to be able to walk into the door, go into a place and get some top shelf merchandise and take it home or take it wherever I go and smoke,” Alba said.
Alba saw the grand opening as a way to support the good deeds performed by Housing Works and also as an opportunity to apply for a job that benefits the community.
“I’m glad that whatever few dollars I may spend today here is going to them. I heard about this grand opening, and I put in a [job] application this morning, I’ve been in retail for over 40 years,” Alba added.
Crowds of pot aficionados lined the block along East Broadway hours before the general public were allowed to enter the dispensary and make their purchases. Woodin, the very first on the line, was able to enter the site just before opening time at 4:20 p.m. where he purchased 3.5 grams of premium cannabis flower. Additionally, all the items sold are grown locally in New York like Back Home Cannabis.
Housing Works Cannabis Co. is now open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.