A Guide to the Best Dispensaries in NYC

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With the faint scent of 4/20 still lingering across the five boroughs, there is no denying that the tides have turned when it comes to cannabis legalization in NYC. Since Colorado set the tone in 2012 as the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, a total of 21 states, and the District of Columbia, have now legalized the sale and use of recreational weed. And thanks to legalization, dispensaries are popping up throughout the US, taking cannabis connoisseurs from back alley transactions to brightly lit storefronts, with floor to ceiling windows and POS systems. A lot has certainly changed in the world of weed in recent years and smokers throughout the US have a lot to be happy about.

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Is weed legal in NYC?

Yes, weed is legal in NYC, finally! Although, we don’t know if the legality has ever had much affect on the people of NYC’s participation in recreational cannabis use. For years, whether walking through Union Square or shopping on 5th Ave, you were all but guaranteed to cross paths with at least one individual wielding a lit joint. And while I wouldn’t say that every New Yorker is now smoking due to legalization, there are some areas of the City that have been known to get particularly cloudy, especially on the sunny days.

When did NYC legalize weed?

Medical cannabis has been legal since 2014 through the State’s medical marijuana program. Through this program, eligible individuals were able to use medical cannabis to treat certain health conditions if a state-registered healthcare provider deemed it appropriate. Though it was still illegal for recreational use at this time, this was a huge step for the state in working towards complete legality, which didn’t come until 2021.

What is the difference between medical and recreational weed?

Beyond the process of obtaining it, the primary difference between medical and recreational weed is the concentration of cannabinoids found in the flower. Simply put, cannabinoids are little groups of substances found in the cannabis plant, and they are what cause your body to have reactions, or get high, while ingesting weed. The two main cannabinoids in weed are THC and cannabidiol, or more popularly known as CBD. THC is the cannabinoid associated with psychoactive brain activity, so medical cannabis typically has a very low THC content, if at all. CBD on the other hand is quite prevalent in medical cannabis and its use is fairly popular for treating symptoms associated with cancer and HIV/AIDS. 

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The interior of Union Square Travel Agency / Getty Images

Can you buy weed in NYC without a medical card?

As of March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law, finally allowing the recreational purchase of weed. New York State has now been added to the list with Colorado and many others, giving their constituents the green light to get lit. Some people probably thought it was never going to happen, but with high hopes, we finally made it.

Are there recreational dispensaries in NYC?

Two years post MRTA and recreational dispensaries have finally started popping up around the city. When first passed, it was communicated that it would take some time before the first stores were open, but considering how long people have waited for legalization itself, two years is just a drop in the bucket. In that time there have been approximately nine licensed dispensaries throughout the State of New York with five of them landing amongst the boroughs. A walk through the East Village will have you thinking there are a lot more dispensaries than just that, but take a look through the following list to be sure you are buying from a licensed retailer.

1. Housing Works Cannabis, LLC

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2. Smacked Village

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3. Union Square Travel Agency

  • Address: 62 E 13th Street, New York, NY 10003
  • Neighborhood: Union Square (Manhattan)
  • Instagram: @unionsquaretravelagency
  • Hours: Sun - Thurs: 9am - 11pm, Fri - Sat: 9am - 12am

Union Square Travel Agency, as misleading as the name may be, is in fact the third recreational cannabis dispensary to open in NYC. Similar to Housing Works, Union Square Travel Agency is a purpose-driven dispensary backed by the not for profit organization, The Doe Fund, of which 50% of all proceeds go directly towards. Birthed by New Yorkers who believe in supporting their community, their 275+ product line features an assortment of BIPOC and women-owned brands, and they are staffed with a group of formerly incarcerated and legacy operators with support from community partners. USTA offers in-store and pick-up on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00am - 12:00am, and Sunday through Thursday from 9:00am - 11:00pm.

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4. Good Grades, LLC

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5. Dazed

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