SCHENECTADY – Complete with a countertop display of Cheetos and Doritos, the Orion boutique tobacco shop on Jay Street celebrated the unofficial weed-smoking holiday of April 20 with a sale that drew a steady midmorning crowd.
Coined “4/20 Day,” the theme brought excitement to something that never should have carried the stigma it had for so many years, Orion owner Linda Scott said.
Many consumers of cannabis commemorate April 20 by smoking weed.
“For years all of our smoking items have been for tobacco use only,” the business said tongue-in-cheek on its Facebook page, “but now we have painstakingly converted all our pipes for pot use.”
Orion also invited smokers 21 and older to light up in front of the store. No one did so during The Daily Gazette’s visit.
Scott told customer after customer that this year’s 4/20 Day took on special importance, with the state’s recent passage of adult-use recreational marijuana.
Also, people wanting to get out and do something during the COVID-19 pandemic brought yet another element of excitement, Scott said.
Former Jay Street restaurant workers China Bowie of Amsterdam and Samantha Johnson of Glenville returned downtown for the sale.
The two 23-year-old women said they frequented the head shop during their lunch breaks from the restaurant.
Speaking about the law’s passage, Bowie said, “I’m just hoping that it leads to getting a lot of people out of jail. A lot of people need to be let go and I hope that that happens first.”
Asked if she felt that people were still being jailed for possessing cannabis, Bowie was steadfast.
“Yeah, absolutely,” she said. “I think that the police force these days is very racially motivated, and unfortunately that leads to a lot of people being criminalized for very low level things. While white people get away with shooting others and they get bail, there are people who sold a dime bag who are in jail for 10, 20 years.”
Johnson said 4/20 Day should be a national holiday, and it’s always nice to support local businesses.
Like Bowie, Scott said passage of the law was long overdue.
“I think we may see some people who maybe didn’t feel comfortable maybe do now, who may come out more. And it’s also I think a great thing that, shall we say was demonized wrongly for years,” she said. “I know people who went to jail for next to nothing. Put the efforts towards something that’s much more serious.”
On whether Scott would be a contender for a marijuana store, once regulations are expected to take form in 18 months or so, she said: “It depends what the state comes up with – what is required, licensing, where you can operate, would we be able to do it in here or would we have to have it in another location. There’s a lot of possibilities,” she said.
Mike Hoover, 58, of Schoharie bought shirts and incense at the Orion sale. Hoover said he didn’t buy anything for smoking marijuana, because he already has a lot of items, having smoked since he was 13.
More than anything else, marijuana has helped with Hoover’s diabetes and kidney and liver ailments, he said.
Hoover said he’s been waiting for marijuana to be legal here since the 1980s.
“I thought it would never come and it has before my life ended, which is a good thing,” he said.