BOWL(D)PIECE pop-up medical marijuana dispensary is designed as both a criticism of and a catalyst to address and change the harsh, existing medical marijuana laws of New York City. In July of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the Compassionate Care Act. The bill was to provide a “comprehensive, safe, and effective medical marijuana program - to ensure marijuana is available to certified patients with serious conditions and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.” Under this act, the qualifying conditions to receive medical marijuana certification include ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, M.S., and some others. Cannabis cannot be sold in smokable form - it must be either in pill or wax form. Thousands of New Yorkers who suffer from these conditions are treated in facilities all over the city. Many of these patients have difficulty walking, breathing, or experience severe pain on a regular basis.
Despite this, there currently exists only (1) medical marijuana dispensary in all of the 5 boroughs. The Compassionate Care Act, which “ensures medical marijuana is available to all certified patients” requires some of these patients to travel extremely far distances throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs to get their supply. This makes it extremely difficult for them to have access to medical marijuana, especially those may be confined to a bed or have difficulty walking.
The idea of BOWL(D)PIECE is to bring the dispensary to the patient. The project looks at all of the varying conditions’ treatment facilities throughout the city and adjacent public parks and spaces. The site for BOWL(D)PIECE becomes these various public spaces. Doing so puts the patients with serious conditions in much closer proximity to receiving the medical cannabis they need. Inspired by the curving forms of cannabis pipes, the overall geometry of the structure and chosen siting also acts as a bold statement to the City and its hard cannabis laws. Although only certified patients can enter, the abstract formal gesture invokes discussion and creates public awareness through word of mouth of the City’s strict laws. It demonstrates that the cannabis industry can adapt to the harsh laws while establishing itself as a legal, professional, and effective means of treatment, and encourage the City to adapt. The modular design allows for cheap and quick construction, a lot of daylight, site adaptability, and a change from centralized facilities to distributed spaces throughout the city; while simultaneously creating a new formal identity for the growing cannabis industry in NYC. The structure is easily assembled and disassembled to be moved to different public spaces at the patients’ demand.