Bodega owners are calling on politicians to allow stores to package and sell recreational marijuana.
The United Bodegas of America, who spoke on Sunday, says illegal marijuana sales already take place outside their stores and results in arrests. The group says that many times, that includes fines for the store because the person hiding the marijuana will leave it somewhere near the store.
Organizers say that with the anticipation of recreational marijuana becoming legal in New York state, bodega owners want to be a part of the new movement especially as rents rise.
They say they’re already highly regulated and licensed to sell cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets and with the proper training want to be included in the packaging, distribution and sales of recreational marijuana to the 15,000 bodegas throughout the five boroughs.
Spokesman Fernando Mateo says the owners want to make sure that marijuana is not taken out of the communities where being jailed for peddling or smoking marijuana is common.
He adds that bodega owners employ over 100,000 people in New York City.