NEW YORK — New York state legalized recreational marijuana last year but has yet to allow licensed dispensaries to sell it beyond medical use.
As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports, that hasn’t stopped all kinds of unlicensed vendors from popping up all over the city, and now the state is trying to crack down.
If you’ve walked through Washington Square Park recently, you’ve likely noticed more people openly smoking pot, and you’ve also maybe seen vendors, who have set up tables selling everything from gummies to joints and weed candies.
“I got two joints, $10. Yeah, one for my mom as a souvenir,” one woman said.
In March of last year, New York state legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older and lowered the penalties for unlawful sales, making marijuana increasingly easy to get, even though the first licensed dispensaries aren’t supposed to open until the end of this year.
Over the years, drugs have plagued Washington Square Park and police have kept a close watch.
In a CBS2 news story from October 1997, 72 people were arrested for doing drugs in the park in a single raid.
But now a gray area in the marijuana laws have allowed a gray market to emerge.
“Cops have been more lenient … A lot of what people don’t see out here, it’s not about people just selling weed. It’s about the fact that people are out here being creative, entrepreneurs,” one man said. “And that’s the reason why the cops don’t stop. Because they see it’s not about violence here.”