Your Guide to Legal Cannabis in New York City: Where to Buy and How it Works (2024)

Weed has been legal in New York since 2021, but the state is still working out regulating and licensing the new industry.

The roll out of recreational cannabis has been rocky through the years. As THE CITY has reported, the licensing of retail dispensaries has been slow. In that vacuum, illegal pot shops have proliferated across the five boroughs. Officials have cracked down on the unlicensed shops, to varying effect.

And the official regulators of the weed industry have seen major upheaval. Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a reboot of the Office of Cannabis Management in June 2024 — as legal licensees protested her administration’s handling of the new industry following THE CITY’s exposé on the state’s so-called “social equity” fund for new licensees.

If you’re new to the topic, here’s where things stand in the legal weed world in New York City and the state:

Table of contents

  • Is weed legal in New York?
  • What’s up with all these pot shops? How can I tell if they’re legal?
  • Where can I buy legal weed in NYC right now?
  • What can legal shops sell?
  • What’s taking so long for the legal dispensaries to open?
  • Can I get legal weed delivery in New York?
  • How much is the tax on New York’s legal weed?
  • How was weed legalization in New York supposed to prioritize people affected by its previous criminalization?
  • How potent is weed in New York?
  • Can I grow my own cannabis in New York?
  • Are we ever going to see cannabis bars in New York, the way we have bars serving alcohol?
  • It smells like weed outside. Should I be worried about the smoke on the street?
  • What happened to the medical marijuana dispensaries? Can I still get cannabis through the medical program? Should I?

Is weed legal in New York?

Yes, with some caveats. Thanks to a bill passed by Albany lawmakers in 2021, New Yorkers 21 years and older can possess, use, buy, transport, smoke or consume up to three ounces of marijuana and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, used in products like tinctures, vape pen oils or butters.

That bill is the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, which decriminalized possession while setting up a framework for how to sort out all the other rules around cannabis. Importantly, it mandated the creation of the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which oversee all weed-related rules in the state (more on that below).

Bear in mind: You can’t smoke cannabis in any place where it’s already illegal to smoke cigarettes, including public parks, restaurants, bars and the subway.

What’s up with all these pot shops? How can I tell if they’re legal?

As weed possession was decriminalized — but before legal weed shops were properly licensed and opened — not-quite-legal cannabis shops and products proliferated across the city.

You’ve seen them everywhere: THC products in bodegas, weed sellers in vans parked in high-traffic spots, and shiny new head shops filling previously empty retail spaces. Thousands of unlicensed shops have opened in the city in recent years.

To combat the trend, in 2024, state officials and law enforcement announced new efforts to curb illegal shops. In May, Adams announced the formation of “Operation Padlock to Protect,” a multi-agency plan to shut down illegal smoke and cannabis shops across the five boroughs. In the first week, law enforcement ordered 75 illegal smoke and cannabis shops to close and issues nearly $6 million in penalties

If you’re looking for the regulated, licensed-by-the-state cannabis dispensaries, look for a blue and white sticker on the front of the location known as a “Dispensary Verification Tool.” It will have a QR code you can use to verify it is on the OCM’s list of all legal, licensed dispensaries.

Your Guide to Legal Cannabis in New York City: Where to Buy and How it Works (1)

Where can I buy legal weed in NYC right now?

You can visit OCM’s list of legal dispensaries here, or take a look at the map and list below of all dispensary locations, created by THE CITY:

Names and locations of all legal cannabis dispensaries operating in New York City as of mid-June 2024. The below are recreational dispensaries unless noted otherwise, such as for medical dispensaries:

Manhattan

  • Gotham Buds: 248 W. 125th St., New York, NY 10027
  • Housing Works Cannabis, LLC: 750 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
  • Smacked Village: 144 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
  • The Travel Agency Union Square: 835 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
  • Dazed: 33 Union Sq. W., New York, NY 10003
  • Gotham CAURD LLC: 3 E. 3rd St., New York, NY 10003
  • CONBUD LLC: 85 Delancey St., New York, NY 10002
  • Dagmar Cannabis: 412 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10012
  • The Herbal Care: 1412 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10128
  • WhiteboxTHC, LLC (dba Lenox Hill Cannabis Co.): 334 E. 73rd St., New York, NY 10021
  • SOODAKS, INC (dba VERDI): 158 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011
  • Culture House: 958 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10001
  • Polanco Brothers: 12 East 42nd St., New York, NY 10001
  • Liberty Buds: 1115 1st Ave., New York, NY 10065
  • Bliss + Lex (Weedish LLC):128 E. 86th St., New York, NY 10028
  • Smiley Exotics: 201 E. 30th St., New York, NY 10016
  • Flower Power Dispensers: 22 W. 66th St., New York, NY 10023
  • Mighty Lucky Inc: 259 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
  • Blue Forest Farms Dispensary LLC: 122 E. 25th St., New York, NY 10010
  • Elevate Soho Cannabis: 481 Broadway, New York, NY 10013
  • Dagga LLC: 157 W. 72nd St., New York, NY 10023
  • Indoor Treez: 584 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018
  • Terrapin Greens LLC: 587 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017
  • Nicklz: 797 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019
  • Urban Leaf: 977 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10022
  • Columbia Care NY LLC: 212 E. 14th St., New York, NY 10003 (Medical) (Temporarily Closed)
  • Etain, LLC: 242 E. 58th St., New York, NY 10022 (Medical)
  • Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: 2 E. 30th St., New York, NY 10016 (Medical)
  • MedMen, Inc.: 433 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016 (Medical)

Brooklyn

  • Grow Together: 2370 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11223
  • BK Exotic: 1056 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11226
  • The Emerald Dispensary: 85 Suydam St., Brooklyn, NY 11221
  • Tiki Leaves: 1511 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11224
  • Matawana Dispensary: 533 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn NY 11215
  • Misha’s Flower Shop: 299 Knickerbocker Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11237
  • Canna Life NY Inc (dba Hii): 152 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11249
  • Society House: Brooklyn (Delivery only)
  • The Travel Agency Downtown Brooklyn: 118 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • Citiva Medical LLC: 204-206 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Medical)
  • Columbia Care NY LLC: 44 Court St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Medical)
  • Valley Agriceuticals, LLC: 178 North 4th St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Medical) (Temporarily Closed)

Queens

  • Cannavita: 30-30 Steinway St., Astoria, NY 11103
  • Urban Weeds: 31-35 Steinway St., Astoria, NY 11103
  • Weed Mart by New Metro: 221-50 Horace Harding Expy., Bayside, NY 11364
  • NY Elite Cannabis: 4215 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361
  • Two Buds Dispensary: 248-09 Jericho Turnpike, Bellerose, NY 11426
  • House of Strains: 161-05 29th Ave., Flushing, NY 11358
  • Good Grades, LLC: 162-03 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Silk Road NYC: 166-30 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Freshly Baked NYC: Long Island City (Delivery only)
  • NYCBUD: 44-45 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, NY 11101
  • Trends Dispensaries, LLC: 27-25 44th Dr., Long Island City, NY 11101
  • The Cannabis Place: 74-03 Metropolitan Ave, Middle Village, NY 11379
  • Kush Culture Industry LLC (dba Terp Bros): 3610 Ditmars Blvd., Queens, NY 11105
  • Just a Little Higher: Queens (Delivery only)
  • Late Bloomers NYC LLC: 57-01 Myrtle Ave., Ridgewood, NY 11385
  • Curaleaf NY, LLC: 107-18 70th Rd., Forest Hills, NY 11375 (Medical)
  • NYCANNA, LLC: 138-72 Queens Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11435 (Medical) (Temporarily Closed)
  • Vireo Health of New York LLC: 89-55 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, NY 11373 (Medical)

The Bronx

  • SESH NYC: 4219 Webster Ave., Bronx, NY 10470
  • Royal Leaf NY LLC: 817 E. Tremont Ave., Bronx, NY 10460
  • Cannabis Emporium (dba Hush): 2460 Williamsbridge Rd., Fl 1, Bronx, NY 10469
  • Bronx Joint: 925 Hunts Point Ave., Bronx, NY 10459
  • Two Buds Dispensary: 696 E. 241st St., Bronx, NY 10470
  • CONBUD Bronx (Summit Canna): 2412 Third Ave., Bronx, NY 10454
  • Freshly Baked NYC 2: 2375 Arthur Ave., Bronx, NY 10458
  • Green Sun (dba Hibernica): 3220 Westchester Ave., Bronx, NY 10461
  • PharmaCann of New York, LLC: 25-27 West Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY 10468 (Medical)

Staten Island

  • The Flowery: 3022 Veterans Rd. W., Staten Island, NY 10309
  • NUGHUB NY: Staten Island (Delivery only)
  • High Stone: Staten Island (Delivery only)
  • The Weed Shoppe Inc: 4906 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island, NY 10309
  • Citiva Medical LLC: 338 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, NY 10306 (Medical)

What can legal shops sell?

The dispensaries can sell a lot of different things, including edibles, tinctures, vape oils and flower (meaning the traditional green plant matter). A notable difference between legal products and the unofficial stuff is the licensed items have to be created with cannabis cultivated inside New York State by licensed cultivators, which limits the universe of sold items. That special strain you like from California, for example, may not be on the shelves in a legal New York dispensary.

Legal cannabis is also tested, labeled for potency, and taxed (more on that below).

Did you buy a cannabis product you’re not sure is legally regulated? Verify it by looking for the universal symbol, pictured at right, which shows a yellow triangle labeled “THC,” a red circle labeled “21+” and the outline of the state in black with the words “New York State.”

What’s taking so long for the legal dispensaries to open?

There are a few factors at play.

First, New York state did something different from other states when it made weed legal. It decided that the first legal recreational dispensary licenses would go to people who have been impacted by cannabis-related convictions. In other states, larger companies or former medical cannabis groups were the first to set up shop for recreational use, said lawyer Fatima Afia, an associate at Rudick Law Group, which specializes in representing cannabis industry clients in New York and New Jersey.

“That has led to a lot of multi-state operators and big players to really monopolize the markets in other states and New York has been trying to do something very different,” Afia said.

And while the “intentions have been wonderful,” the outcome is mixed, she added.

The state has struggled to get the dispensaries up and running, in part, because until the summer of 2023, the state had yet to secure the $150 million in private dollars it had planned to support sites from smaller operations before letting bigger and better capitalized players into the market.

Reporting by THE CITY uncovered that a private equity group benefited the most from that so-called “social equity” fund contract, guaranteeing substantial returns to the Chicago Atlantic Group. After our reporting, the state suspended new cannabis business leases.

Additionally, multiple lawsuits had stopped stores from opening in several regions — including, for months, in Brooklyn — and difficulties in securing real estate and capital have also played a role.

The Office of Cannabis Management itself has faced serious issues. Hochul announced an overhaul of the agency in June 2024 after an assessment done by the state found inexperienced leadership and budget problems have led to mismanagement by the agency. OCM’s executive director Chris Alexander resigned in late May 2024 amidst criticism.

Can I get legal weed delivery in New York?

Yes, you can — if you’re 21 or older. There are a few ‘delivery only’ dispensaries across the boroughs, including Freshly Baked NYC in Queens and Society House in Brooklyn. Some of the recreational dispensaries, including Good Grades in Queens, also offer delivery.

There is a limit on the quantity of cannabis products that you can purchase for delivery. Adults can purchase up to three ounces (85 grams) of ‘flower’ and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis in a single day for delivery.

Customers can contact their favorite dispensary directly to see if they will deliver. In case you missed it, here’s the full list of state-licensed dispensaries.

How much is the tax on New York’s legal weed?

A buyer of legal, licensed cannabis in the state will pay at least 13% tax on the purchase. And that does not include a tax imposed by the state on distributors of cannabis products when they sell to retailers. That tax varies by product and potency.

The more THC in the product, the higher the tax, which means oils and resins are taxed higher than cannabis-infused drinks and food, which in turn are taxed higher than flower, i.e. loose buds.

How was weed legalization in New York supposed to prioritize people affected by its previous criminalization?

New York State has already dedicated its first recreational dispensary licenses to those who were directly penalized by prohibition, and the MRTA has a goal of giving half of all licenses to “social and economic equity applicants,” including those from communities hurt by prohibition.

To further right the wrongs of the War on Drugs, the OCM unveiled the Social and Economic Equity Plan. The framework lays out the path for New York’s cannabis industries based on the equity goals of the MRTA. That includes aspects, such as the two-tier market that’s meant to separate the supply side of the market from the retail side — which in theory will allow smaller businesses to compete with larger companies.

As far as tax revenue from recreational cannabis goes, the state outlined that after upfront costs, 40% of revenue would go toward the state Lottery Fund for education purposes, the same amount for community reinvestment grants, and the remaining 20% would be allocated to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.

How potent is weed in New York?

It depends on the product you get. Legal, regulated cannabis has a variety of potencies depending on what you’re smoking or consuming, and the strength should be labeled clearly.

However, the potency of some of those products was different than advertised, according to an investigation by NY Cannabis Insider that tested high-potency strains sold by licensed growers. That prompted the state to change testing rules. It’s also impacting discussions among lawmakers who are reconsidering the state’s potency tax, as described earlier.

All that being said, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to know what you’re getting — and have a good grasp of its potency — if you go with the legal stuff, said Sang Choi, downstate dispensary director at the medical cannabis company Etain.

“There is a big difference between 5mg and 50mg. If you consume a cannabis edible, you want to be confident that the correct amount of THC is in the product,” Choi said by email. “The products we offer are required to pass stringent testing guidelines set forth by the Office of Cannabis Management for quality assurance, potency and contaminants so customers will be able to trust what they purchase.”

Do we know how strong the cannabis is from a bodega or unlicensed shop? No, because there’s no standard for testing or tracking it. The publication Hell Gate made an unscientific attempt to answer that question. But, ultimately, it’s “buyer beware” in the unlicensed market.

Can I grow my own cannabis in New York?

Yes, but only if you are 21 years or older. Those people are allowed to grow and possess up to six plants at home, three of them mature and three immature.

Previously, only medical patients could grow those plants at home, but the state approved home growing for recreational use in June 2024.

Heads up: In New York, there are many places that may not allow cannabis growing on the premises, including within public housing complexes and in co-op apartment buildings that ban it. If you are a medical patient living in one of those places, you can designate a caregiver who can grow on your behalf. Learn more about that here.

Are we ever going to see cannabis bars in New York, the way we have bars serving alcohol?

Yes, almost certainly. But not for a while.

The state approved regulations in September of 2022 that outlined rules for the entire legal market, including for “limited retail consumption facilities,” which would be attached to existing dispensaries. The first license applications for the general public opened on October 4 that year. While those licenses include categories for microbusinesses, dispensaries and growers, there is not an application to open a consumption facility yet.

However, some non-licensed businesses have opened lounges, like Empire Cannabis Club that has one in Soho and the other in Williamsburg. There are many others spread out across the boroughs.

But, not every town in New York State will allow it; some towns and villages already have opted out of on-site consumption. But New York City has not opted out, and Mayor Eric Adams has been vocally supportive of all types of cannabis businesses, including those for on-site consumption.

OCM has no estimate for when that may happen (legally). But when it does, those businesses could look like anything from a smoking lounge to a bring-your-own-edibles movie theater or comedy show.

It smells like weed outside. Should I be worried about the smoke on the street?

Health effects from marijuana smoke are a concern indoors, according to health experts who spoke to Newsday, but less so outdoors —because it disperses into the air quickly.

Walking by someone who is smoking on the sidewalk is “not really a high risk,” said R. Lorraine Collins, a public health professor at the University at Buffalo, to the newspaper. But if you’re exposed to smoke for prolonged periods where there is no or little ventilation, that could mean fine particulate matter is getting into your lungs, where it could cause health issues.

What happened to the medical marijuana dispensaries? Can I still get cannabis through the medical program? Should I?

Medical dispensaries are still open and operating; there are about a dozen in New York City as of June 2024, which you can find listed here.

And, yes, you can still join the medical cannabis program. As of June 2024, 111,731 New Yorkers are registered patients. Choi of Etain said recent changes by the state means getting certified has become a simpler process for patients.

“Medical cards are no longer required and the patients do not have to register with the state,” she said. Plus, many more medical practitioners can now certify patients than when the program first rolled out, she added.

The medical eligibility categories have also expanded since the medical program first began, including conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and autism.

Whether you get cannabis through a medical or recreational dispensary depends on your health needs and preferences, but be aware that the medical facilities have a few things a regular dispensary won’t, including an on-site pharmacist to help you figure out what products or dosage you need.

There is no sales tax on medical cannabis, Choi points out — but products may not be covered by insurance.

“Medical cannabis dispensaries often offer patients discounts and loyalty programs that adult-use dispensaries may not offer,” she said.

Related

Your Guide to Legal Cannabis in New York City: Where to Buy and How it Works (2024)

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