“Legacy” Cannabis Dealers In New York Want To Go Legal

Cannabis and marijuana businesses in New York.
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“I was always known as the guy that loved cannabis,” said Lou Cantillo, who grew up selling it to friends in Coney Island. That love came with a cost: when he was a teenager, he said he was chased and roughed up by a cop for smoking in the stairwell of his building, one of several encounters with the police around that time.

But despite the risks, Mr. Cantillo kept selling as an adult, even during his brief career as a boxer.

When Byron Bronson left Seattle for Rutgers University to study theater in 2004, he looked around at the low-quality pot available in New Jersey and knew he had to do something. Having dealt on the West Coast since high school, he quietly started importing strains from Washington state, soon gaining renown for his distinctive selection.

Attitudes toward legalization have changed since the early dealings of Mr. Bronson and Mr. Cantillo, who met in New York City through a business associate in 2013, and decided to join forces. Although what they do is still illegal under state law, that could soon change, as New York passed a legalization bill last year.

Mr. Bronson, 39, and Mr. Cantillo, 31, run Buddy’s Bodega, one of the most prominent illicit cannabis wholesalers serving the New York Metro area. Known for bringing buzzy designer strains from California, like the potent El Presidente, to the East Coast, the business has tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. It employs about 25 people who bag, dispatch and deliver that limited-quantity supply to hundreds of customers — many of whom then resell their products — on an invitation-only basis.

The owners of Buddy’s are interested in joining the legal market as soon as the law allows it in New York, which will soon follow New Jersey in embracing recreational cannabis sales. Read more.

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