Times Square has gone to pot.
Enterprising weed peddlers taking advantage of the state’s lack of marijuana regulations have turned the Crossroads of the World into a bud bazaar, where edibles and joints are freely sold from brightly colored trucks and makeshift street stands.
On an average day, more than a half-dozen weed trucks can be found parked between 41st and 51st St. and Sixth and Eighth Aves. selling their wares — and ganja lovers couldn’t be happy.
“You’re damned right it’s a good thing,” said John Brennan, 43, a tourist from Dublin, Ireland, who purchased $40 in edibles from a Weed World truck on 42nd St. and Broadway Thursday.
Four years ago, Brennan said, he bought weed on the street from a man “with a tattoo on his neck. And you didn’t know what you were getting. Now, you can just walk up and buy it from a truck.”
There were plenty of trucks to choose from on Thursday evening.
Three Weed World box trucks parked within two blocks of each other on 42nd St. and Broadway. Eight more trucks were parked in the Garment District between W. 34th St. and W. 42nd St. between Fifth Ave. and Ninth Ave. on Friday, according to a map shared with the Daily News.
Weed World also operates a brick-and-mortar store near Times Square, just up Seventh Ave. from the M&M’s Store.
“Business has been really good,” said one Weed World employee, who wished not to be named. “We are really popular.”
The inundation of trucks and street stands have drawn the ire of Times Square merchants and residents who claim the trucks are taking up valuable parking spots and making it appear that the area has become an open-air drug market.
The New York City Sheriff has been tasked with inspecting the weed trucks in the coming weeks and towing those flagrantly violating the city’s traffic and parking laws, a source with knowledge of the request said. The Sheriff’s office said it couldn’t comment on pending investigations.
At last week’s annual meeting of the Times Square AlliancePresident Tom Harris said some pot vans and trucks have racked up more than $30,000 in unpaid tickets and fines.
“If these trucks are left unaddressed, this could lead to a sense of disorder and a sense that Times Square is not as safe as it could be,” Harris told The News.
“We have to seek creative, proactive solutions involving all agencies working together and hold these sellers accountable for their actions and we’re happy that the Adams administration is not accepting the disorder that has festered on our streets over the last few years as our new norm.”
Train Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in March 2021 decriminalizing recreational marijuana for adults. Sales of weed in large quantities remain illegal until the state establishes regulations, rules for dispensaries and licenses. Applicants in communities of color are expected to get the licenses firstwhich could be approved by the end of the year.
Yet the state’s decision to decriminalize marijuana before regulations were put in place created a gray zone where pot sellers try to skirt the law by selling small amounts, or exchanging marijuana for donations. Over the last few months weed trucks have been found all over the city, including Harlem.
”It’s been about five months and it’s been good,” said Mohammed Thioune, 30, a Senegalese dealer found selling weed in the street near Duffy Square. “It’s still not really legal to sell in the streets. The police still bother us. You’ve got to have a truck to be left alone.
“We’re all able to make some money,” Thioune added. “Everybody’s got bills, right?”
The fleet of green trucks peppered throughout Times Square are designed to attract tourists coming from places where marijuana possession is still illegal, Harlem resident Lerisha Spence said.
“Real New Yorkers don’t buy from the trucks,” said Spence, 25, who dropped $40 on two pre-rolled spliffs at the corner of W. 41 St and Broadway. “We have our own people. The trucks are good for tourists. We are waiting for all the dispensaries to open up.”
Bronx resident Simone DeSilva said the weed trucks can be found in Manhattan “all the way from 42nd St. down to Union Square.”
“It’s definitely changed Times Square,” said DeSilva, 26. “You don’t see anything like this anywhere else in the city. It’s a problem if it gets to be an overflowing situation.
“At least, it’s not like the K2 plague uptown,” she said, referring to the synthetic marijuana drug users in Harlem and Brooklyn overdosed on in 2016. “Those people are lost. They are like zombies.”
When the dispensaries do open up, the trucks may quickly disappear.
Stanley Cohen, a well known marijuana attorney, said legislation is already in the works to preclude any current sellers in this “gray market” from getting licenses. Once the licenses roll out, those without them will be hit with cease and desist orders with heavy fines attached.
“People figured that there would be a nuanced run before regulations were put in place so no one’s surprised (by the trucks),” Cohen said. “People were more surprised with the complete decriminalization in advance of a plan.”