Status: 05/26/2022 3:21 p.m
In the heart of New York, a new attraction is turning heads: canna buses. In front of the moving “coffee shops” there are sometimes long queues. Selling drugs is legal, but not uncontroversial.
High Time in Times Square: Kiandra has it all – baked goods, oil products, gummies, lollipops and of course the classic joint. It costs between 20 and 25 dollars, the exact price depends on the content.
ARD-Studio New York
The young woman with the braided pigtails laughs from the sales window of her colorful truck. WeedWorldCandies’ long bus is parked at the curb 24 hours a day. A customer who is having his joints packed up finds this practical.
It is great. It’s much better to know it’s all cleanly made. Better buy this stuff here than have some guy bring it to my front door.
Many different vendors sell weed in New York from trucks or buses.
Image: Simon Seitel
Grass in the gray area
The products sold here are made in US states where the weed has long been legal for sale. “Cannabliss” or “Weed World Clinics” are the names of the pop-up stores on wheels, which often attract longer queues than the diners around them. They are also popular with tourists: “They come from France and London – from everywhere,” says Kiandra. “Everybody smokes. You don’t expect that from some people.”
Smoking weed has been legal in New York for almost a year: anyone over the age of 21 may possess up to 85 grams of cannabis. And yet these canna buses shouldn’t exist yet, says the head of the Times Square Alliance, Tom Harris: “They’ve legalized the possession of marijuana, but don’t yet have any rules for its sale. And now we see them here mobile points of sale on the street. That leads to violations of regulations,” he says.
After all, every hot dog stand needs a license. For a long time, the canna buses have therefore tricked the trade: Nobody “bought” the joint. Instead, it was given as an encore for the expensively bought coffee. Instead of payment, some traders took “donations” for the weed in the gray area. Harris is angry:
These trucks are illegally parked here, they’re illegally selling. They collect parking tickets and just ignore them. 300,000 people come to Times Square every day. We need rules, also to manage the business here.
“Same as selling hot dogs on the street,” says one vendor.
Image: Simon Seitel
First licenses for former criminals
In fact, the New York government has pushed ahead with legalization without having settled the licenses. Proceeds from the cannabis trade are expected to eventually go toward drug addiction treatment and educational programs.
New York expects the reform to generate around 300 million euros in tax revenue annually – plus tens of thousands of new jobs. But the first 100 legal sales licenses won’t be issued until the end of this year at the earliest — to those previously fined for marijuana possession. A fair move, thinks Kassandra Frederique from the organization “Drug Policy Alliance”.
We want to build an industry around New Yorkers who have suffered from over-criminalization. We want fairness in this industry.
New York opens a cannabis office
According to statistics from the civil rights organization ACLU, African Americans have been jailed four times as often as white people for possession of cannabis in the United States. With the reform in New York, previous convictions should also be deleted from the registers. To handle all this, the city even set up a cannabis bureau.
Canna bus number eight has now arrived at Times Square. The young woman behind the counter says they were driven from another place by the police.
I mean, it’s legal like any other product. Same as selling hot dogs on the street. Just a bus selling hashish products.
And because New York is behind it, the police also turn a blind eye. No one wants to stress about something that is about to be decriminalized.
Weed in the Gray Zone: Cannabis from the Canna-Bus in New York
Antje Passenheim, ARD New York, 23.5.2022 23:25 hours