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The race to recreational sales: Five New York dispensaries to watch

Can you buy recreational weed in New York? The laws surrounding buying recreational marijuana in New York State are blurry, to say the least. There are still no regulations in place, and no 100% legally operating recreational dispensaries open for business. So how and where are people scoring their recreational bud? The answer lies in creative workarounds, relying on medical cards and dispensaries, and semi-legal operations, some of which can be risky for customers and business owners. As New Yorkers wait for the regulations to catch up to legislation, here are five places they go to get the goods. 

Empire Cannabis Clubs

This members-only club has two storefronts in New York City, plus an online ordering portal, and a delivery system. Their workaround is a concierge club that connects consumers to products. Anyone aged 21 and up can browse the selection of flower, edibles, and concentrates, but only members can purchase them. Becoming a member is easy and cheap—around $25 for a month membership, or $15 for a day membership. 

Etain

Woman-owned and family operated, Etain has New York dispensary locations in Manhattan, Kingston, Syracuse, and Yonkers. They are currently operating only as a medical dispensary, with a focus on accessible cannabis education. The company was born from a desire to care for the founders’ grandmother, honing in on the medical benefits of cannabis. They have a variety of their own product lines in different styles to appeal to a wide range of customers. Shoppers with a medical card can choose between flower, tinctures, creams, lozenges, sprays, capsules, and more. 

Curaleaf

With over 100 dispensaries across 23 states, Curaleaf is not exactly the small business storefront many New Yorkers are hoping to shop at. That being said, this large enterprise has made an effort to be inclusive, center social justice issues, and offer reliable quality cannabis to many communities across the United States. They have dispensaries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hudson Valley, and the Adirondacks. Currently, they only sell to medical patients, as per the lagging regulations of New York State, but will be one of the first major enterprises to seamlessly roll out recreational offerings when legally available. 

Gifted BK

Gifted BK is an example of how creativity rises to meet the demand of a community. The Brooklyn spot is a cultural destination, part art gallery and community space that speaks to the urban experience. Patrons can come and enjoy the art, purchase digital art, and be gifted weed. It takes a simple transaction and turns it into an experience, elevating it in all ways. With great reviews and a strong customer base, this is a model that may evolve and stick around even after regulations become standardized. Their webpage also has a link to other options for buying recreational marijuana without a medical card. 

Good Leaf

Good Leaf is not technically in New York because it is on recognized Native land. The Native-owned business has two locations, one near Buffalo on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation and the other on the Allegany Territory of the Seneca Nation near Ellicottville. The stores sell flower, concentrates, and pre-rolls. This Native-owned cannabis dispensary in New York sets an exciting precedent for Native people to participate in the growing industry on their own terms.

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