MANHATTAN – Less than a month after setting up shop on the busy East 86th Street corridor on the Upper East Side, the unmissable bright green bus offering up marijuana products to the masses was taken away– possibly the first Green Truck in New York City, as they’re known, reported to be ticketed and towed by the NYPD.
The highly conspicuous green bus with large LED signs reading ‘Uncle Budd’s,’ operated in plain sight, located in front of the Old Navy store on East 86th Street near Lexington Avenue— parked near a NYPD cruiser stationed on the block— since mid-January.
That’s until the NYPD’s 19th Precinct announced the enforcement action on Twitter on Tuesday.
“We heard your complaints loud & clear,” the 19th Precinct tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “illegal vending on East 86th Street ended today for this truck.”
“Left unoccupied on the street it was ticketed & towed,” the NYPD added.
The difference between Uncle Budd’s and other vendors is the products they offered were all marijuana based— bags of weed, pre-rolled joints, cannabis edibles, vape cartridges— and instead of making sales, the workers accept ‘donations’ from guests and then provide a gift for their generosity.
At least one neighbor wasn’t pleased with the new addition to East 86th Street.
“Not what the Upper East Side needs,” Robyn Roth-Moise wrote in a tweet tagging the NYPD.
“A weed truck where you make a donation to get around the laws.”
While recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in New York State, the licensing process to sell weed hasn’t been finalized— leading the proprietor of Uncle Budd’s weed trucks, which serviced five locations in Manhattan including the Upper East Side, to seemingly exploit a loophole in the law.
On Tuesday, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management announced it had sent cease-and-desist letters to two dozen businesses “suspected of illegally selling cannabis, including the practice of ‘gifting.’”
“We have an obligation to protect New Yorkers from known risks and to strengthen the foundation of the legal, regulated market we are building,” said Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright.
“Therefore, these violators must stop their activity immediately, or face the consequences.”
It is not known whether Uncle Budd’s received a cease and desist order.
It’s worth noting today’s enforcement action by the NYPD was described as a result of illegal vending rather than any offense involving marijuana– though it’s not clear why the typically-staffed bus was reported as being unoccupied.
Thursday evening, just hours after the police announced the weed truck had been towed, Upper East Site spotted a second green bus– identified by its slightly different paint scheme– parked in the same location as the weed truck that had been taken away– though this one was not open for business.
We’ve reached out to Uncle Budd’s and the NYPD for more information and will update this story as necessary.