It’s no secret, the joint is out and it seems like it’s here to stay. With heavier debates on the legalization of marijuana circulating for the last few years, it’s no wonder that the city is already seeing a boost in open smoking. This goes hand in hand with the fact that in Nov 2014, Mayor de Blasio introduced an NYPD policy wherein a person found in possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is issued a ticked rather than getting arrested, reported New York Post. This policy, however, is only if the individual has ID and no outstanding warrants, and smoking weed is still considered a crime.
This decriminalization is no doubt the catalyst for the boom in public smoking, and Astoria is definitely no exception. In the evening, pedestrians on most streets won’t need to walk very far before coming into contact with that reefer smell. Couples, or friends are usually seen along less busy side streets, and even the busier avenues, sharing a joint and a conversation.
When asked about the influx of public smoking, one waiter in Astoria said, ‘that’s why we smoke in public — because it’s decriminalized. Before, we would try to smoke indoors.’
A 19 year old restaurant hostess standing with the waiter continued, stating that ‘the more open you are about it, the less obvious you are. We’re not acting out. We’re just standing here smoking our joint, and if anybody comes up to us and happens to be an undercover cop or something, they can easily just tell us, "Hey you’ve got to put that out." It’s very easygoing.’
And usually that’s just what happens. The openness of smoking weed in Astoria may come as a shock to some people, but to most, it is an everyday part of their day. From business men, to restaurant owners, to students or older couples, to delivery drivers. Some do it to relax after a long day’s work, others to help them get to sleep, or to just hang out with friends and enjoy a movie or a night out/in.
‘It’s just become normal’ one resident along Broadway told Give Me Astoria, ‘you get to the point that you don’t even notice the smell anymore, it’s everywhere and no one seems to care.’
Perhaps it’s also the fact that Astoria is such a multicultural center of New York, which gives it that blasé attitude toward Mary Jane?
Either way, with laws bending and more people casually walking the streets with a joint, weed doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon.
*Featured Image Via TheStranger.com