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NYC Celebrates First Legal 420

HENRIETTA MCFARLANE, HOST: Once upon a time, April 20th was just another day in Spring. But no longer. Today we know it as 4/20. A day to celebrate marijuana. And for the first time, recreational users in New York City can buy their 4/20 marijuana legally. Isabelle Teare talked to those who are choosing to celebrate.

ISABELLE TEARE, BYLINE: Chris Goodwin decided not to go to work today.

CHRIS GOODWIN: I called in sick. It’s a national holiday!

TEARE: How are you going to celebrate?

GOODWIN: No plans. Take an edible. See what happens.

TEARE: Goodwin has celebrated 4/20 since he was in college, when a friend gave him weed peanut butter and they spent the day swinging on swings in the park. But this 4/20 is different from all the previous ones. Because that edible he’s going to eat later in celebration? He bought it legally.

GOODWIN: I went down to Housing Works Cannabis. Best place in the city I think.

TEARE: Housing Works Cannabis Company opened in December of 2022. It was New York City’s first legal recreational dispensary. And today is their first legal 420. Which is why, an hour before opening, there’s already a line outside.

The security guard – who goes by the name Diesel – has been preparing for this day. Setting up the red velvet ropes and the brass posts.

DIESEL: Look at that. Nice and shiny over there. We’re always on our game here at housing works.

TEARE: Second in the long line is Oden Calvert.

ODEN CALVERT: Probably gonna buy a few eighths if I can. I mean I’m in line pretty quickly, so hopefully I get the good stuff.

TEARE: Inside the store, the staff is blowing up balloons. Large shiny green numbers – 4 2 0. And there’s a live DJ blasting music. So one of the workers takes me downstairs to talk.

SASHA NUGENT: My name is Sasha Nugent. I am the Bud Master here at Housing Works Cannabis.

TEARE: She says the beginning of the weeks are usually slow for them. But this week was different.

NUGENT: This whole week we’ve been increase in sales. So even on a Monday we saw an uptick in sales as well. And today I’m expecting to double what we normally do on a Thursday.

TEARE: Double the sales! What started as a numerical joke amongst secret weed smokers, is now a commercial opportunity. Which makes you wonder. As more and more legal dispensaries open, will 4/20 become another holiday co-opted by corporations. Is it the new Cinco de Mayo or St Patrick's Day.

Saphira Galoob, the executive director of the National Cannabis Roundtable, says it already is. What’s missing is the branding.

SAPHIRA GALOOB: So I believe four 20 is the cannabis holiday and once. You know, we see more ubiquitousness in supporting a regulated market. I think certain brands and certain products are gonna become more popularized, but the overall market is gonna be celebrated on this day for the inevitable future.

TEARE: Back outside of the Housing Works dispensary, Oden Calvert says the magic of 420 isn’t just the weed… it's what you do with it. He’s going to the park to smoke with friends. He isn’t worried about the holiday selling out.

CALVERT: I don’t think that corporate vibe will take over weed. It’s too free for that to ever happen.

TEARE: Which is a sweet thought for a beautiful sunny weed holiday. Of course, this is New York City where nothing stays free and un-corporate for long.

Isabelle Teare, Columbia Radio News.


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