Here’s Weed Spotlight on New York City: The Legal Marijuana Boom

New York State, New York City in particular, has long been associated with pioneering new ideas. From Hip Hop, teddy bears, and fashion, to Studio 54, toilet paper, and pizzerias, New York City is synonymous with innovation. It’s surprising, then, to see New York join the game so late in its dealings with legalizing marijuana. With a disgraced governor exiting the state, and New York City’s second black mayor taking the helm,  New York is seeing changes up and down. Will this make room for legal marijuana to carve its own path? The Here’s Weed Spotlight on New York City takes a look.

Here’s Weed Spotlight: The State of Legalization

New York County Supreme Court building against sunset. Lower Manhattan, New York City

In my last blog, I highlighted the states, territories, and even a few tribes that have legalized marijuana use in my blog Where Cannabis is Legal: Understanding Legality in the United States and Its Territories, Districts, and Tribes. As mentioned, New York state is one of the states that has moved forward on full legalization. Former governor Andrew Cuomo signed approved legislation to legalize marijuana on March 31st, 2021. With this, New York expunged previous marijuana- related criminal records. They also prohibited employers from testing both prospective and current employees for cannabis use. Current provisions allow the transport of up to 3 oz. (85 grams) of flower, or 24 grams of concentrates. 

This is certainly a progressive move in New York’s history leading up to full legalization. Though partially decriminalized in 1977, steps over the years toward full legalization have been seen. For instance, in 2014, then mayor Bill De Blasio directed the NYPD to cease arresting individuals, instead issuing tickets for small possession, even cases that exceeded the decriminalization statutes and required arrest. This effort eventually faded, with NYPD officers going back to arresting at the pre-2014 rates, even for small possession.

Here’s Weed Spotlight: Cannabis  in the City

New York City skyline

New York state boasts beautiful scenery, as well as cities, that are often left in the grand shadow of New York City. Lake Placid, the Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, and the Adirondack Mountains include a few scenic landmarks worth checking out. I’ve been to the Adirondacks, and just, wow. Take Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, for instance. Whether for athletes, rock stars, or being very cold, their fame precedes them, but they pale in comparison to the notoriety of New York City. So notorious that most people completely forget that New York City is attached to the state of New York. Infamous for so many attributes, both good and bad, New York City is now starting to hear a new conversation over its city’s soundscape. The chatter of marijuana legalization breaking ground in the city. 

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Marijuana has been circulating through New York City for quite some time. I remember smoking from rooftops in Harlem, apartments in Brooklyn, and in the streets of the city, wondering when legalization would take hold. This was around 2012, so almost ten years later, we see progress. In the city, though, none of the 11 types of licenses pertaining to legalized marijuana cultivation or distribution have been issued. So, as it began in most cities, a void exists that organization and legality have yet to fill in. Until that time though, unless you’re going through a medical dispensary, unregulated dispensaries exist all over the city and state.

First on the Scene H4

Good Leaf, a recreational marijuana dispensary opened its doors on Route 37 at the beginning of May, 2021.
(Provided photo — Vin Gallo/Malone Telegram from Adirondack Daily News)
Good Leaf, a recreational marijuana dispensary opened its doors on Route 37 at the beginning of May, 2021.
(Provided photo — Vin Gallo/Malone Telegram from Adirondack Daily News)

Soon though, the first legal dispensary may take hold. As mentioned in the blog we earlier referenced, tribes such as the St. Regis Mohawk tribe have opted for full legalization through tribal affairs. With this, though, the St. Regis Mohawk tribe is racing to become not only the first tribe, but the first in New York State, to open a retail dispensary for medical and recreational customers. You are currently able to buy marijuana from unregulated dispensaries on the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, so there are still options. However, that’s quite a drive from New York City, almost directly on the New York/Canada border. 

Uncle Budd’s, also known as The Green Truck, Harlem, NY

In the city, there are a few out-in-the-open options. Uncle Budd’s, a truck parked in Harlem that offers “gifts” in exchange for a donation ( a similar system is noted in my blog Donating in Washington DC: A step-by-step guide from a NoVA native). There’s also Puff n’ Paint in East Harlem, endorsed by names like Nick Cannon and Fat Joe. These options aren’t “illegal,” but they aren’t licensed by the state of New York either, so they exist, currently, in a unique gray area. A gray area that most cities experience when initially passing legal marijuana legislation. Here’s Weed will be expanding with each states’ furthering legislation, so stay tuned for Here’s Weed in New York City and New York State. 

A Here’s Weed Spotlight on New York City: In Conclusion

If you’re going to make it in America, you can always look to New York City for a rags-to-riches, nothing-to-everything success story. So many unique stories of perseverance and determination pepper the hard-walked streets of New York City. As marijuana legalization begins to take shape, New York City will begin to turn that gear of innovation it is so famous for. Creativity is already rampant on the unregulated dispensary scene. It’s only customary that legalization streamlined with that unparalleled New York City work-ethic would birth a power house industry. Thanks for reading the Here’s Weed Spotlight on New York City. The reader isn’t’ thanked enough, in my opinion. We hope to see you using Here’s Weed in New York City and New York State. When it becomes available, don’t forget us when you’re trying to find your next trusted, local vendor. Look for the Here’s Weed spotlight on your city in the future!

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