Dispatch: How to Jump the Line at New York's First Legal Dispensary
Fast-tracking to legal weed without the wait
Have you ever done one of those baby foot peels? It’s this chemical peel for your feet that transforms them from mangled transportation limbs into stunning first-rate OnlyFans content—but only after undergoing a somewhat disgusting 5- to 14-day molting process. I’m on the other side of that now, and I think it was worth the journey to shed some dead skin towards a fresh 2023. Just a little self-care tip from yours truly.
By now, some of you may have heard the news that we’re deep in Mercury Retrograde. Also, New York City’s first legal dispensary opened on December 29—conveniently on an arbitrary and unmemorable date right before New Years, not so dissimilar to the state’s decision to greenlight cannabis legalization the day before April Fool’s. You know, because having a sense of humor does not come naturally to bureaucrats.
Anyway, you can go buy joints at a store in New York City now like many other cities and states that have been doing this for awhile now. Better late than never!
Cannabis market research company, BDSA, anticipates that New York will be the largest new market for legal cannabis in 2023 and the second largest contributor to sales growth through 2026, following Florida. Daily lines snaking down Broadway from 8th Street to Astor Place outside the newly minted Housing Works Cannabis Co. dispensary support this theory, which continues to generate foot traffic from persnickety, time-constrained New Yorkers despite being situated equidistant between the thriving open legacy markets in Washington Square Park and St. Marks, just steps from NYU and Cooper Union campuses.
Think about that for a second: New Yorkers are willing to wait in line for legal weed. Not me, I mean, but many other New Yorkers.
But we’re friends. So, I’m going to tell you how to skip that line. First, let’s talk about the dispensary and what to expect.
Area woman stakes out local New York dispensary
Naturally, some of you might be wondering what opening day was like. Oh wait, are you looking at me? Sorry, I have no idea. Let it be known that I did not go. Aside from the fact I don’t do lines (mostly out of respect for my ancestors), I was pretty stocked and not in a rush to compete with crowds or fight trad journalists for coverage like Zach Sokol of CashOnly420 (thanks for taking one for the team).
Recognizing that the opening was thrown together very last minute, I decided to go for the wait-and-see approach. The evening before opening, Housing Works’ Instagram Stories page showed the empty Gap storefront actively being transformed into a makeshift operation overnight that suggested this was not a soft opening, but asking for a miracle that truly took a village. If this initial rush was going to be anything like the debuts in Michigan or Illinois, there would predictably be high demand with long waits and questionable supply. Hence, I did not go.
So, I waited a few days. Took some strolls across the Village and jotted down notes. What time of day are people waiting in lines? Who is buying this newly legal weed? What does it really look like? How busy is the Donut Pub a block down?
Coincidentally, within days after the opening, I noticed a 200% increase* in weed smoke in my apartment building’s hallway (not from me, obviously, because I’m not an amateur). On one hand, it’s nice to see New Yorkers participating in this new system. Still, no plug? Tsk tsk.
*Stats collected from two floors that previously smelled like urine, trash, and Balsam candles
What was interesting to me—beyond the highly anticipated initial figures—is the demographics: they’re diverse. Old people, young people, middle-age people, all genders and races. There wasn’t one kind of “weed smoker” demographic because there isn’t. It appeals to a pretty broad audience, despite the chronic portrayal of what constitutes a subculture within pop culture.
Still, for those who were invested (and punished) for partaking in this newly government-approved consumer product good market, it’s understandable that the legacy market will continue to operate with loyal clientele until more social equity licenses become available and allow these individuals to run compliant businesses on the same level as the initial players. I would also expect that the wait time will reduce as more dispensaries open. (For the record, I just had an excellent bootleg Stewart’s root beer gummy labeled after the now-fallen gourmet grocer, Dean & Deluca—a memorably strong and tasty flavor that I have yet to see any legal operator add to their edibles repertoire).
Another side effect: Housing Works’ Google listing page was immediately slammed with bad user-generated reviews—mostly about opening day issues and fake complaints devaluing the quality of product that were most likely penned by people with competing interests. Not sure what everyone was expecting. It’s like rolling up to any major department store on Black Friday, shocked that all the door busters are gone and it’s taking longer than average for their understaffed store to check out, then turning to the internet to make yourself feel better. And yet, people do that, too.
Anyway, how did I skip out on this hassle and what is it like inside?
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