Bodega owners are split after new group opposes selling legalized marijuana in stores

MANHATTAN — Bodega owners are split about whether or not legal recreational marijuana should one day be sold in their stores.

The Bodega Association of the United States, which represents 5,000 bodega, said Friday that recreational marijuana should not be sold in their stores.

Khaled Ashaif runs a bodega in Washington Heights that’s frequented by families and children.

“What we sell represents the community, and we should not sell it because that promotes it to the kids,” he said.

However, even his costumers are not quite sure why they shouldn’t one day just be able to buy some pot along with everything else.

“If it’s legal you walk into the store just like you buy cigarettes and beer, it’s the same thing,” said one shopper.

The push Friday for state legislation to ban weed in bodegas comes less than a month after a separate group of Bodega owners rallied in the Bronx in favor of allowing marijuana sales in their stores.

They see it as social justice issue, and want to see marijuana dollars dedicated to areas historically targeted for marijuana arrests.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said he agrees communities of color should certainly benefit from recreational marijuana sales, but said just not at the bodegas.

“They are not thinking about profits and who will take advantage, they are thinking about the family and the safety and the children,” Rodriguez said.

Bodega owners said they also have safety concerns about selling marijuana.  They are already targeted by criminals at a disproportionately higher rate than many other stores.

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