New York recently legalized recreational cannabis use, which means the door is open for dispensaries and consumption lounges to open up legally. The problem is that the path to legality is fraught with hurdles, especially for legacy farmers and people of color. All of the obstacles mean that the city has more unlicensed operations than licensed ones. Whether their status is legal, or questionable, I found the best places to get your smoke on in the city that never sleeps!
I lived in the city for a few years when I was in my early 20's. It was the start of the new millennium, legalization was still pretty far off and most people I knew had a weed man, or used a delivery service. While I didn't mind the weed man or delivery service, I did mind waiting hours for them to FINALLY show up, so the ease of going to a store to get my goods is truly unmatched! Naturally I was excited to return to the city and see how legal cannabis has changed things and paved the way for NYC cannabis tourism.
Finding a place to BUY cannabis in the city is easy, but finding a place to SMOKE cannabis proved to be a little more difficult. Technically, consuming cannabis in public spaces is illegal in New York, which means a sesh in the park could cost you. I wanted to be a good tourist so I opted to seek out lounges and restaurants that allow consumption. After some google.com searches and DM's to my fave canna influencers in NYC, I managed to come up with a great list of places to smoke out!
La Fleur Cafe NYC
Modeled after the coffee shops in Amsterdam, La Fleur Cafe (lafleurcafenyc.com) is definitely hitting all the right notes. Located in the East Village and easily accessible on public transportation, this place is sure to be a favorite of any canna tourist. As is the case with many consumption lounges, you need to be a member in order to enter, but the process to become a member is easy and can be done on your first visit. Once you're in, you'll instantly feel at ease because the vibes are so immaculate. There's a small menu of 4-6 strains of flower that have been curated by the cafe owner. My accommodations weren't canna friendly so buying an eighth or more wasn't an option, but I was pleased to learn that there were pre-rolls available upon request. And in true Amsterdam cafe style, there's a great selection of beverages to help cure your cottonmouth.
One of my favorite things about La Fleur Cafe was the art gallery wall that they curated. There was a unique collection of cannabis centric works. I always love to see a local business team up with artists to display their work, and hopefully help them make a sale. They also had a small merch section with some tees and sweats in their signature forest green color.
I was surprised to learn that they also host fun events for members to enjoy. The day that I visited, they were getting ready to host a burlesque show that night. While it wasn't quite as Amsterdam style as I expected, it was still a great place to get your puff on, so I know I'll be back on my next visit!
Cafe Cannal (cafecannal.com) ended up being my go-to spot the weekend that I was in New York. It happened to be directly outside of the Canal St. stop on the NRQW subway line, which was the line that was near my hotel. Not only is Cafe Cannal as close to the train as you can get (the subway is like 10 steps from the entrance) but it was the only place I found that served food. With a selection of salads and sandwiches that are perfect for breakfast/brunch/lunch and delicious coffees, teas and lemonades, Cafe Cannal is a stoners dream come true! They open early, 9am during the week, and on weekends they open at 10am, which is still relatively early for cannabis centered businesses.
In addition to their regular cafe offerings, they also have a menu of pre-rolls and infused treats. The cookies, brownies and gummies varied in strength, but were mostly single or light doses. They also offer the option to add an infusion to your beverage. Upon request they'll add a few drops of CBD or THC tincture. They also had a some coloring books and markers available to help keep you occupied while you get higher than the Empire State Building ;) and if you haven't tried coloring while high, DO IT NOOOW!! You'll be so relaxed and calm after, I promise!
I can't even tell you how lucky I was to be able to go to the Astor Club as it's location is one of the best kept secrets in the New York cannabis scene! I scoured the internet and found articles about the club, but no address...or website...or contact info...NOTHING! I had all but given up on going when a chance encounter paved the way for me to visit this iconic lounge. I was expecting the vibe to be swanky and unattainable, but walking into Astor Club felt just like walking into your dealers apartment. The thick cloud of smoke, the interesting mix of characters, the big couches and a game on the tv. My worries of not fitting in melted away as soon as I went through that heavy velvet curtain.
They had an assortment of flower, edibles and pre-rolls for you to choose from. The person that brought me to the lounge had a house pre-roll that we smoked. I don't quite remember the strain or how good it was because this was my last stop after a loooong day of touristy tings, but I do remember it being nice to smoke! I do recall. the payment process can be a process, so be sure to have cash AND card ready. It was a little too chilly for me to enjoy it, but they have an outdoor patio space that's perfect for the smoker who doesn't like their clothes to reek. Try asking around your circle of friends to see if anyone can get you in, because it's a must visit for anyone in the cannabis industry.
Certz Midtown Lounge
Ahhh, the Certz (midtowncertzlounge.com) This was the first place that I stopped the night I got into the city. I was expecting a storefront or maybe speakeasy type place, but it was less structured than that. I saw several folks walking down the stairs as I was walking up, but once I got to the floor there wasn't any signage and the door was locked. It was quickly opened and I was let in after I paid the $10 cover.
Once you're in, there's around 10 vendors with various spreads of products. I've come to trust the brands that I know, and there weren't many familiar brands there. I did happen to find a 5-pack of Baby Jeeter's that the vendor gave to me for $20. That would normally cost me $40+ here in California. I was a little intimidated, so I didn't take any pictures and I only stayed long enough to smoke a Baby J. They had some tables, a couch, a TV and some video games. I noticed that a bunch of people had alcohol, so you can BYOB if cross fading is your thing. I was there on Cinco De Mayo, and with a DJ and MC, it definitely felt like a party atmosphere, so the vibe was a lot for me. I would have to go back on a regular night to get a true sense of how the lounge normally is. Either way, it's worth a visit to snag some great deals.
"I Know A Spot..."
If you're the type that prefers to have your sesh guerrilla style, here's a few ideas for places you can go to spark up:
A Rooftop. If you have access to it, a rooftop view in the big apple is pretty awesome. Be sure to read the signs and know the rules wherever you stay, that way you can avoid any problems.
A Park. There are over 1,500 parks in the city, but Washington Square Park is the one that has always had a reputation for being the place to buy/smoke your weed. The vastness of Central Park also makes it an easy selection. There's lots of green there, so you'll fit right in!
The Beach. When the weather is right (or even when it's not) hop on the train and ride all the way out to Coney Island. You can sesh on the beach and then stroll the boardwalk or explore the shops and restaurants in the area.
Wherever you opt to get lit, keep in mind that public consumption is technically illegal. From what I've learned it's rarely enforced, but it's still something to consider if you're going to be out puffin' in public.
Let me know if you have suggestions for where I should sesh on my next visit to NYC!