Bodega Group Says ‘No’ to Weed

Council member Ydanis Rodríguez (fourth from left) joined the Bodega Association of the United States which says it wants nothing to do with selling marijuana if legalized. (Photo by Gregg McQueen via Manhattan Times)

The Bodega Association of the United States, a coalition of some 5,000 businesses in the city, spoke out against selling marijuana in their stores if it becomes legalized, reports Manhattan Times’ Gregg McQueen.

At a March 8 press conference, members expressed their opposition citing concerns of child safety and crime. If a recreational marijuana bill is approved by the State Legislature, residents would be able to buy marijuana at places authorized by the state.

“We are small time mom-and-dad shops. We represent the community,” said bodega owner Khaled Ashaif. “This is promoting it to the kids, and that is a dangerous path. Kids see us as leaders in the community.”

“We should not sell it because that promotes it to the kids,” he said.

Francisco Marte, owner of Green Earth Deli in Inwood, agreed.

“We are very against that for our community, for the safety of our kids,” said Marte.

Store owners also voiced safety concerns related to marijuana sales, noting that bodegas are already targets of crime.

“We will be then subject to more hold ups, to robbery, than before,” remarked Marte, who said that strict regulations related to alcohol and cigarette sales are already a hassle.

United Bodegas of America, on the other hand, supports legalizing marijuana, with its president saying that bodega owners have already witnessed firsthand marijuana being sold, and the consequences. What did he mean? Read more from both sides at Manhattan Times.

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