New York, New York — also known as the city so nice, they named it twice. The allure of New York City (NYC) isn’t just its iconic skyline and diverse culture, but also the recent wave of cannabis legalization that’s opened the doors to recreational dispensaries. In an effort to keep New York’s cannabis industry safe, four more NYC recreational dispensaries recently opened in December 2023 and January 2024. For cannabis enthusiasts, this means more locally-owned dispensaries where you can get your fix.
If you’re curious about the current state of cannabis in the Big Apple, this guide has got you covered. We’ll be exploring the legalization of cannabis in New York State, the best places to check out, and five things you can’t miss.
- 1 Is Cannabis Legal in New York?
- 2 Are Recreational Dispensaries Legal in NYC?
- 3 Where to Go: Exploring Recreational Dispensaries in NYC
- 4 Recommended Recreational Dispensaries in NYC
- 5 Are You Planning on Opening a Dispensary in New York?
Yes! Cannabis was legalized in New York for recreational use on March 31, 2021, through the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA). It’s only legal for adult-use, meaning that only adults aged 21 or older may possess and use recreational cannabis. This monumental change in legislation not only decriminalizes possession but also allows for the legal purchase of cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Previously, it could only be obtained and used for medical purposes under New York’s Medical Marijuana Program, established in 2014.
With the changing environment surrounding cannabis laws, you might be wondering if recreational dispensaries are legal in NYC. The answer is – Yes! Recreational dispensaries are legal in the Big Apple and are regulated by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). As of December 31, 2023, there are currently 16 licensed recreational dispensaries in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. However, since the licensing process is different between recreational and medical dispensaries, the OCM keeps the list of each of them separate. For those looking for medical cannabis dispensaries, there are currently 10 licensed medical dispensaries in New York City and the surrounding boroughs.
Knowing where to find these legal recreational cannabis shops is the first step in beginning your cannabis journey in NYC. You can find these dispensaries through search engines like Google or on their official websites. Many dispensaries also have a social media presence, so you may be able to find some through apps like Facebook and Instagram.
Although browsing dispensaries on social media or Google can be convenient, it’s important to verify that these dispensaries are regulated and operating under license. To be safe, we recommend using the Dispensary Location Verification tool on the OCM website before visiting any cannabis dispensary.
Dispensary operating hours can vary, but they typically align with standard retail hours. Most dispensaries open in the morning and close in the evening, although it can vary depending on the day. Some dispensaries stay open until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing customers plenty of time to get their cannabis fix. To plan your visit, be sure to check the operating hours of the specific dispensary you plan to visit.
For those looking for a more convenient option, some dispensaries in NYC offer delivery services. Since most New Yorkers rely on NYC’s extensive subway system and don’t own a car, sometimes it might be hard to find the time to physically go to a storefront. The Dispensary Location Verification tool also lists some delivery-only dispensaries, which could be a good starting point in your search. Keep in mind that each dispensary will have its own delivery options, fees, and delivery areas. To find out more about cannabis delivery services, check the dispensary’s website or contact them directly.
- Housing Works Cannabis Co: Located at 750 Broadway, Housing Works Cannabis was the first recreational dispensary to open in New York City. This dispensary holds its product in the back, so customers are greeted at the counter by a budtender who guides them through a tablet with what’s available and helps them find the perfect strain.
- Union Square Travel Agency: Located at 835 Broadway, Union Square Travel Agency offers French tobacco, to easily roll a joint on the go, vapes, concentrates, and even CBD skin care. All of the products are showcased within the store and arranged by experience labels, such as “Do you want to be elevated?” or “Do you want to relax?” to show the customer that they can get that experience through the product. Budtenders here are trained to answer any question, but a self-service option is also available. Additionally, the shop delivers to select neighborhoods in the city for $10.
- Gotham: Located in Queens and open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., is unlike any other dispensary. You can legally purchase marijuana, but you’ll also find artistic offerings, such as books, pottery, pillows, candles, and even clothing. Gotham showcases art, music, and performance on a rotating basis.
- Dazed: Located in Union Square, Dazed is where the cannabis plant intersects with music, art, fashion, and food. They aspire to be a representation of what the cannabis culture was and continues to be. Dazed offers a wide variety of products, including edibles, pre-rolls, flowers, vapes, and even apparel.
- Conbud: Located at 85 Delancey, Conbud was founded by three Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Their mission is to normalize cannabis usage, provide education, and de-stigmatize the formerly incarcerated community by easing their integration back into society. Their budtender team is made up of formerly incarcerated individuals with a deep understanding of cannabis, giving them the opportunity for a second chance.
Are You Planning on Opening a Dispensary in New York?
Things You Should Consider:
Considering how recent the legalization of recreational marijuana was, it’s no surprise that the cannabis market in New York is currently experiencing strong growth. Retail cannabis sales totaled a whopping $83 million in the first three quarters of 2023, with a 264% increase between Q1 and Q2, and a 221% increase between Q2 and Q3. These numbers indicate a high demand for legal cannabis products within the city. The overall NYC cannabis industry is expected to reach $7.07 billion by 2025 according to a Grand View Research report.
If you’re considering entering the cannabis industry in New York, understanding the licensing process is one of the first steps. Recently, Bloomberg reported that New York’s cannabis regulators are planning to grant 1,500 new licenses to help alleviate a surplus of marijuana. This could be good news for any aspiring NYC dispensary owners since the industry is highly competitive.
The licensing process in New York State can be a lengthy and complicated process due to the multiple steps that are required. The state has implemented a competitive and comprehensive application system in order to regulate the industry effectively. Some of the steps include submitting a detailed business plan, financial documents, security protocols, and compliance strategies.
For more information on how to open and design a dispensary in New York, continue reading here.
To run a successful dispensary in the cannabis industry, it’s important to be well-educated in the New York state regulations surrounding marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) outlines in detail what regulations need to be followed. These regulations cover a wide variety of aspects, such as product testing, labeling guidelines, quality, control measures, and advertising. Staying compliant with these regulations is not only a legal requirement but also a way to maintain your dispensary’s reputation and integrity.
As the cannabis industry takes root in New York, exploring recreational dispensaries can be a very exciting adventure. With legal cannabis shops already making their mark in the city, both locals and tourists have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the growing cannabis culture in the Big Apple. As exciting as it is to explore NYC’s cannabis scene, remember to do your due diligence when researching dispensaries. Using the OCM’s Dispensary Location Verification tool can help you stay safe during your cannabis journey throughout the city. On top of that, entering the NYC cannabis scene can make a rewarding business venture for any entrepreneurs who are interested in or passionate about the industry. The city is full of potential, and finding an untapped area of the cannabis market can make it a fantastic business opportunity.