New York Dispensaries

New York City is the busiest city in America thanks to its status as the most populated. It’s one of those metropolises that seems to be high on something, pretty diverse, and vibrant. Naturally, you’d expect the Empire State to lead the nation when it comes to adopting certain trends such as marijuana legalization. But that’s not entirely the case. On the surface, cannabis is legal in New York dispensaries for both medicinal and adult use. But the regulation part is a bit more complicated.

Since cannabis guidelines vary from state to state, if you’re not familiar with how New York handles things, getting a cannabis prescription may seem like an uphill task.

Now, before you walk into a dispensary in New York, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. You Need Certification

Many people are aware of the general requirement for getting a marijuana prescription in most states. You first get approved by a certified doctor before being issued a marijuana card.

However, things are a bit different in the state of New York. Residents who qualify for the medical cannabis program and wish to make legal purchases will need certification.

The first step towards certification is to find a registered medical marijuana practitioner. There are two ways to go about this:

  • Talk to your primary care doctor, who may be already registered with the state medical marijuana program. If your doctor is not registered, they will refer you to a registered practitioner.
  • Visit the Department of Health’s website and search for a list of registered practitioners in the Medical Marijuana Program section.

The Registration Process

After getting certified by a registered practitioner, the second step is to register on the state’s online portal. The process includes creating an account and following specific registration instructions.

Once you’ve completed the online registration process, you have to wait for the Department’s approval and a temporary registry ID card, which you’ll use in the meantime as you wait for the actual registry identification card.

2. An Option for Caregivers

In the state of New York, caregivers and guardians can buy medical marijuana at the dispensaries on behalf of their patients.

As a caregiver, you’ll need to complete a separate registration process different from the one your patient fills out.

To add yourself as a legal caregiver, you need to log in to the patient’s account on the state’s portal and follow instructions for caregiver addition.

3. Just a Handful of Dispensaries

Regardless of its high population, New York has one of the fewest marijuana dispensaries in the country. While you have states like Oklahoma with over 2,000 dispensaries, New York has only about 40 (some locations are not yet operational).

New York dispensaries are called Registered Organizations. There are about ten of these organizations, such as Columbia Care and Curaleaf, and each operates around four locations. 

If you’re having trouble locating a dispensary near you, this site will help you find one in your region.

4. Notice Recreational Shops?

In March last year, the state of New York passed a bill that legalized marijuana for adults 21 years plus. 

However, the state is still ironing out regulations for the new recreational industry, which means that legal sales are not yet approved.

The thing is, some merchants are already setting up shops, and you’ll come across these adult use outlets like Uncle Budd’s. It’s worth knowing that recreational outlets are not the same as registered medicinal dispensaries.

5. Product Variety

New York dispensaries do offer variety to cater to people’s different needs. You’ll most likely find what you’re looking for, ranging from oils, capsules, ointments, and even gummies.

However, not all dispensaries will have what you need because there is also a limit to what is available under medical prescription. 

For instance, you won’t find smokable products like joints at medical marijuana dispensaries. It’d be a different scenario once adult use dispensaries are up and running, though.


New Yorkers may seem underserved for now. However, the law has already laid down strong foundations, and it won’t be long before the state’s medical and adult use cannabis industries become some of the biggest in the country.

At the moment, learning more about how things work here will ensure you have an easy time at cannabis dispensaries across the state.