A small line had already formed outside of Housing Works Cannabis Co. by 10:30 a.m, and Diesel, who leads security at the store, was setting up a velvet rope to keep things orderly on Broadway. It was pretty much a regular day, he said, but he had polished the poles between the rope as a little something extra. “Everybody’s having a good time as usual,” he tells me. “We always have big crowds.” Another employee Windexes the glass on the front doors. Green balloons float dreamily inside. Housing Works opened the city’s first recreational dispensary last December, making this the first official 4/20 of New York’s recreational-cannabis economy. To mark the occasion, Diesel, who jokes his name should have been “Sour,” after the weed strain, says there will be a DJ later. There are donuts, too.
But much of the line doesn’t seem to care that it’s an international weed holiday. Sandy, who occupies the distinguished role of being first on line, is there because he’s “just getting out of work,” he says. He plans to go home to the Bronx and sleep. “I’ll probably take an edible the minute I get out of here.” Bruce Borzon is there on the directions of his doctor, who recommended he try cannabis after having multiple back operations over the last eight months. He hasn’t smoked since the ’70s, he says, “and that was only once.” I tell him it’s 4/20. “Funny!” he says. He plans to take his first-ever edible before tonight’s Rangers game. It’ll help his back, and he won’t be “too upset” if they lose.
The only truly festive line-waiters I end up talking to are two women near the back who say they just got off the plane from Michigan and Housing Works was their first stop to kick-start their vacation: “We’re both stoners.” I ask if they’re high at the moment, and one pauses before saying, “Not anymore.” There are by now about a dozen people waiting, and it’s nearly 11 — time to open. A slight buzz builds. A woman walking by appraises the line and shouts, “Happy 4/20!” As she walks on, she turns to her partner to ask, “Today is 4/20, right?”