New York state is inching closer to legalizing marijuana, and one group wants to ensure that they’re not left behind once weed can be sold in NYC stores: bodega owners.
According to the New York Post, members of United Bodegas of America, which represents many of the bodega owners throughout the city, rallied outside of a store in Melrose, in the Bronx, over the weekend, and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow them to become part of the marijuana trade.
“We have battled with people selling Marijuana for decades in front of our stores. We have seen thousands being arrested for selling Marijuana in front of our businesses,” Radames Rodriguez, the president of UBA, said in a statement, per the Post. “Bodega owners need increased revenue to survive, we have paid our dues.”
In Cuomo’s state of the state speech earlier this year, the governor advocated for legalizing marijuana in 2019, claiming that it could generate as much as $300 million in tax revenue for New York by 2024. The de Blasio administration has released its own framework outlining weed could be safely legalized in New York City, while also acknowledging and working to end the long history of unfair targeting of people of color for marijuana-related offenses.
Letting bodega owners—who often serve communities that have been unfairly targeted by police for such offenses—sell marijuana would be one way to achieve the city’s goal, according to UBA.
“All this money should not go to white-owned businesses,” UBA spokesman Fernando Mateo said during the rally, according to ABC7NY. “It should not go to corporate America. It should be shared with the underdogs.”