You see him, “the dude with the bookbag,” and though he’s actually the founder of Mary Jane’s NYC, he might as well be Spider-Man. So quickly does Javier scoot around Lower Manhattan with his pop-up supply of fine vapes (CBD and THC), gummies, and candy, you have to check his Instagram (@MaryJane_NYC_) for clues as to his location. Once he’s procured you a treat – or much-needed medicine – he slips off to aid more friends in need.
But Javier’s mission extends good karma beyond that; his ultimate business plan provides for sustainable, ethically responsible access to marijuana and hemp products for citizens of the United States and the Dominican Republic alike. Sitting atop his childhood building on the Lower East Side, he explains that, despite being a native New Yorker, he’s always felt an affinity for the Caribbean nation from which his parents immigrated. But while he regularly visited there growing up, Javier says it wasn’t until just a few years ago that he realized how the cannabis industry could bolster both economies.
“Right now the United States is importing hemp from China, on the other side of the world,” he notes. “The Dominican Republic is just three hours by plane… My family owns a big plot of land [there]. My idea is to turn that into a hemp farm and use as much as we could to help people – the oil for cooking and healing, the stalks for fibers… A lot of factories are in the Dominican Republic and school uniforms are made there. [When they’re made from hemp], that material lasts longer. It’s not susceptible to moths and deterioration as cotton is, or as thirsty for water.”
Cannabis is still a nascent industry in the Dominican Republic; Javier admits that most lawmakers there, like in the U.S., don’t understand the difference between hemp and marijuana. They still outlaw all forms of the plant, so Javier knows it will take time, money, and the right connections to make his dream a reality.
“I think cannabis has great potential to lift that country out of poverty,” he asserts. “They have some of the brightest minds, best doctors, and medical schools… But they could be using the plant to help people.”
His next plan was to own a dispensary in Manhattan, but the estimated expense and New York’s licensing limits nixed that, so instead Javier turned to his current operation. Clients reach him first through Instagram, meeting later in person anywhere below 59th Street, though he has been known to ship to a select few out-of-state customers. He tests every product before deciding to add it to his inventory, and carefully sources the manufacturers and brands he markets. Many are mom-and-pop companies (including Eureka Vapor and Honeycomb) which take an artisan approach to their output, crafting each oil, gummy, or accessory with love.
It’s a sentiment Javier knows well: “Before I heard the [Ziggy Marley] song, I told people, ‘Love is my religion.’ I didn’t smoke weed until I was 21. I grew up in church and… when I got disillusioned, I decided to focus on love and kindness.”
He’s also extremely committed to the environment, frequently posting recycling PSAs on social media and seeking out partner brands that use sustainable packaging. Javier even wears a repurposed soda tab necklace to symbolize that nothing should go to waste. As we treat each other, so must we behave toward our planet and plants.
“We need to start looking at cannabis as medicine, not a drug,” he urges. “While most of my clients are recreational, there are several who need it because they’re in a lot of pain. At the end of the day, those are the people that I do it for.”
So the next time you need a pick-me-up in New York City, just call your socially-conscious neighborhood superhero.