photo by Sarah Meyer
There are a few legal snafus to sort out, but New York City will soon be a major tourism destination for cannabis enthusiasts
As a tourist in New York City, looking for good cannabis can be a lot like using Craigslist or eBay -- a sketchy and unpredictable experience. Since dispensaries are only currently selling to customers with licenses for medical marijuana you’ve got to be sure you’re buying real, top-shelf products and not oregano. Here is a Top Ten list of places to score bud along with a bunch of spots you'll want to visit while baking in the Big Apple.
Washington Square Park
Greenwich Village, NY
photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist
You can’t talk “cannabis in New York City” without mentioning Washington Square Park
. Historically, the park has been a haven for stoners. In the days before legalization, it could be quite the adventure – partly because buyers never really knew what they were getting from the shady dudes who whispered, “Smokey, smokey” when they saw potential consumers. But now in a more progressive era, not only is the park a historical landmark with plenty to do and see, it’s become a fairly reputable place to buy decent cannabis. An open-air market has emerged where dealers sell buds, pre-rolls, and edibles. These guys are often friendly and sociable, even offering customers free paper to roll, and lighting pre-rolls for buyers. Some also sell CBD products. But it’s not just pot, it’s pot apparel, too. Entrepreneurs sell customized T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, fanny packs, backpacks, and even flags like the kind you see on Etsy; the colorful psychedelic designs give the area a real hippie vibe. Vendors there operate in a gray area, as selling weed and smoking it in a public city park is technically still illegal but, for the most part, the police turn their backs to the unlawful activity.
The Stone Age
607 Avenue of the Americas, NY
Their slogan is, “Come as you are, leave transformed” – and that may have nothing to do with the gift basket visitors pick up at the end of their journey. The Stone Age
is a self-described, “immersive, multi-sensory, cannabis experience” that features eight installations over 9,000 square feet of museum space. Multimedia exhibits explain the effects of cannabis on the mind, body, and soul, and innovative art presentations are designed to expand visitors’ horizons. One installation, created in partnership with the Last Prisoner Project, consists of art pieces by people who are or were formerly in jail for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses. Other attractions include a motion-activated painting screen, a DJ booth in which visitors can make their own beats, black-light murals, and light sculptures that are designed to appeal to the cannabis enthusiast. The works, claim the organizers, are all centered around six states of being, and are designed to leave visitors feeling “inspired, empowered and curious” about the cannabis plant. One-hour visits to The Stone Age are $53.75, while two-hour stays are $84.80.
Need a cozy, comfy 420-friendly place to stay? We’ve got the spot for you. Luxury 420BNB
is a two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Brooklyn – in close proximity to renowned clubs and a quick ride to NYC – that has a large backyard/patio area where renters can hang, smoke and chill. Each room in the place features a flatscreen TV on the wall, and art and vintage furniture enhance the classy vibe. Visitors can choose between the 420 Oasis Master Bedroom and the Jimi Suite. Luxury 420BNB provides a CBD bath bomb, quality skincare products, and other gifts for happy stoners. Plus, there’s a continental breakfast with a 420-friendly complimentary tea and coffee station. Special snacks are available. And a private chef is available on special request. Messenger the host on HiBnb to book reservations. Hurry, they sell out fast.
Stoner Walking Tour
New York High Line, photo by Mike Peel
Weed lovers on the Stoner Walking Tour are encouraged to BTOW since vouchers for the tour don’t provide any cannabis products. But for those who want to get a taste of New York tourism from a stoner’s perspective and enjoy some laughs along the way, Stoner Walking Tours
takes small groups of visitors to numerous NYC landmarks, including Times Square, Grand Central Station, The High Line, Central Park, Broadway, and Restaurant Row. Tours depart on Wednesdays at 4:20 p.m. and the tour guides are established comics and entertainers that just might not be quite established enough that they don’t need a little extra weed cannabis cash. Past and present group leaders have been featured on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Mr. Robot,” “Blue Bloods,” and “The Colbert Report.” All participants must be at least 21 years old. Tours depart from the Times Square area (the exact location will be revealed after booking).
NYC Barber Shop Museum
290 Columbus Ave, NY
Sure, you can sit in the chair and get a shave and a haircut at the NYC Barber Shop Museum
. These days, however, the establishment is better known for its reefer than its old-school grooming techniques. Yes, visitors can check out exhibits of vintage straight razors and see a hot towel warmer from 1900. But they can also procure cannabis from a glass display case that offers a variety of strains with names like Platinum OG and Wake and Bake. Museum-goers can’t exactly “buy” the weed. Aside from all that haircut stuff, The Barber Shop Museum specializes in digital art. Then, they offer their customers a “gift” depending on how much they paid for the art, often between $40 and $100 for an eighth of an ounce. Of course, it’s an old technique, the legitimacy of which is debatable. But for now it seems to work just fine at the Barber Shop and other locations around New York, and will likely remain the dominant way to score cannabis until area dispensaries are open for recreational users.
Gifted BK Art Gallery
153 Grand Street, Brooklyn
Similar in structure to the NYC Barber Shop Museum, but a bit less elliptical, Gifted BK
is a gallery that calls itself “a cultural destination” – a vague but apt description. This Brooklyn store sells digital art and gives out pre-rolls and buds in appreciation. It's a pretty cool system. The customer pays for digital artwork using a QR code. Once the purchase is complete, the art work is sent to the customer’s phone; the gift is distributed separately. Want to know what they're charging for weed, err art? It’s literally on their website.
Lower East Side, NYC
Well-connected, financially secure visitors to NYC may want to obtain the necessary credentials to drop by the exclusive Astor Club
for some sophisticated socializing with others in the know. There must be a reason why they call themselves “the highest club in high society” but we're still waiting for our invitation. We can’t tell you the address of this Lower East Side club, but if you’re more in-the-know than we are you can pay membership dues to apply for a license. A yearly membership is $200; a lifetime membership is $500. Once accepted, members approach a counter that accepts “donations.” Products for sale include beverages and candy, and the bar offers such strains as Pluto, Chem-D, Blue Dotty, Guava Cake, and Kiwi. Those of us that aren't on the inside track to such delights at the Astor Club can follow their Instagram and sigh.
Empire Cannabis Club
147 Eight Ave., NYC
Another high-end cannabis outlet is located in the middle of the row of businesses on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea. The Empire Cannabis Club
plugs itself as NYC’s first recreational marijuana dispensary; of course, they’re dealing with some grey area here. Since vendors can’t legally sell weed yet, the club “provides a membership concierge service to help people 21 years of age or older find the best recreational cannabis at the best price – legally.” Basically, the way it works is you become a customer by paying daily or monthly memberships for access. Then their “budtenders” can help you select from an array of buds, edibles, and concentrates. They are open daily and some locations even have a smoking area for their members. Confused? Let’s put it this way. The club operates through a loophole since the business makes a profit selling memberships, not cannabis. A legal scholar could probably poke holes through that premise like swiss cheese, but since Empire’s clientele is fairly exclusive, the city isn’t worried about the place attracting a seedy element.
High End Dinner Club
Various Scheduled Locations
High End Dinner Club
started as an underground club in 2017 (remember the dark ages?). Now it is a traveling restaurant that combines upscale gourmet dining with pot to create an infused dinner experience. They even have vegan options! The way it works is they have nationwide tours with about a dozen tour dates and customers are able to buy tickets to eat a three-course infused meal in the presence of bud influencers and connoisseurs. They also have an annual membership that allows members access to discounted tickets. About a quarter of the tour dates are based in New York City. The next one is in September.
416 Broadway, NY
is New York City’s first and only cannabis café! They welcome all stoners, potheads, and newbies who bring their own pot to smoke in their lounge. They also have a beautiful outdoor dining spot on the sidewalk where customers can enjoy smoking their pot as well as the café’s CBD-infused meals and drinks. This café is big with foodies, green juice lovers, and weekend brunchers who also happen to be cannabis enthusiasts.
98 Orchard Street
Legacy NYC, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is another art gallery that “gifts” cannabis. Once again, the gallery sells works from local artists that must be purchased to receive a "special gift." Legacy NYC
has a wide range of cannabis strains advertised on their website along with corresponding prices. This gallery is a rising star of recreational marijuana brands in NYC so be sure to visit!
About the Writer
OJ is a journalism student at New York University where she focuses on reporting on the cannabis industry. OJ has covered the effects of cannabis on urban planning in the wake of widespread legalization. She is also researching and covering the burgeoning cannabis tourism industry in the United States. She is an avid researcher in the field of cannabis, spanning history, laws, businesses, and policies.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on LinkedIn.