Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon Is Opening a Cannabis Consumption Lounge in Newark
After decades of prohibition, Newark officials are giving Raekwon the Chef's new weed lounge a warm welcome.
Published on February 10, 2023

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Raekwon the Chef of Wu-Tang Clan is planning to open a cannabis dispensary and public consumption space in downtown Newark next month. 

The new joint will be the fourth location of the rapper's Hashstoria dispensary chain, and the first to feature a public consumption lounge. The company, whose name combines hash and Astoria – the Oregon town where the company's first dispensary opened – sells Raekwon's Compliments of the Chef cannabis brand along with Big Boi's Daddy Fat Paks and a variety of merch. The Newark outlet will be the company's first venture outside of Oregon.

The new Hashstoria location will be housed in a historic building on Broad Street in Newark's Four Corners District. The swift approval of the new dispensary signals a major paradigm shift in the city’s troubled relationship with weed. Newark cops have a long history of disproportionately enforcing cannabis prohibition laws against marginalized communities. In 2021, after New Jersey voted to legalize weed, pot possession arrests in the city actually increased by 23%. 

But only two years later, city officials are finally embracing the adult-use industry. “Hashstoria is a great addition to the downtown area and will help to further establish Newark as a destination for recreational and cultural activities,” said Mayor Ras Baraka in a statement reported by Black Cannabis.

The city's Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission also unanimously signed off on Hashstoria's architectural plans. The company plans to expand the four-story building's brick facade to unify its outward appearance after early buildouts removed some of the historic ornamentations from the lower two floors. 

“There’s been a lot of change over time with this building,” said Rachael Grochowski, principal of RHG Architecture + Design, to Jersey Digs. “We’re going to have community art in the window that will be changeable. The existing window frames will be painted black to freshen them up and really stand out and coordinate with the signage.”

Raekwon still needs to wait for state approval before he can start building out the weed lounge, though. New Jersey just announced its draft public consumption rules in December, and will not start handing out licenses until after the public commentary period closes on March 18th. The state currently plans to allow companies to open either indoor or outdoor smoking lounges in fully enclosed spaces, but would also block lounges from selling booze or food items.

Newark will already be a familiar location for Wu-Tang fans, since most of the biopic Wu-Tang: An American Saga was filmed there. Raekwon has yet to announce any plans to open a Hashstoria location in his old Staten Island stomping grounds, though. And there’s probably a good reason for that. New York and New Jersey both fully legalized adult-use weed in 2021, but the Empire State has only managed to open 3 dispensaries to date, while the Garden State has hundreds now. New York hasn't finalized any plans for public consumption spaces either, but adults are allowed to blaze up in public, at least.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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