Everything You Need to Know About NYC's First Legal Weed Dispensary

Courtesy of Columbia Care

The first legal purveyor of marijuana just opened near Union Square, and naturally, we already did your weed homework for you. The upshot: while you can now legally purchase medical marijuana in New York, this ain’t Colorado yet, y’all. Here’s the rundown on how to get dope from Columbia Care:

Find a doctor

As of today, 226 physicians have registered for the NYS Medical Marijuana Program, but finding out who these progressive physicians are is a bit trickier than it sounds. The state’s Department of Health assured us that it's going to provide a list of physicians to registered patients in the near future (it's not making the info public due to safety concerns), but as of right now, you’ll just have to get lucky enough to have a Cool Doctor.

Courtesy of Columbia Care

Have a serious disease

So, yeah. Currently, your light case of anxiety isn’t going to get you a pot card. The list of diseases for which medical marijuana can be legally prescribed in New York are all really serious: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington's disease. In short: it’s straight-up disturbing that anyone battling one of these hasn’t had legal access to pot for decades. Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, provided an, ahem, sobering thought on the subject: "The patients who qualify to enroll in this program are looking to lead a quality of life that most people take for granted, and this is a pathway that could enable them to do that."

Things might change on that score, though -- the Department of Health is doing some more reviews, and if there’s enough scientific evidence to support that marijuana provides relief to patients suffering from additional conditions, then those will get covered, too. So as usual, what we need more of is science.

Get certified

Once you’ve met with a physician who has taken the four-hour course that certifies a doctor to legally prescribe weed, they’ll provide you with a certification if you meet the criteria.

Then apply online

After you’ve gotten certified by a doctor, you have to submit your application after registering with the state. Eventually, they’ll mail you a Registry ID Card, which will allow you to...

Courtesy of Columbia Care

Finally, buy some weed

After you’ve finished jumping through various governmental hoops, you can hit up Columbia Care for all the sweet, sweet Mary Jane you can ingest in any of the various non-smokable forms. Yep: only oils, tinctures, and capsules are currently legal. But vaporized options are good too: just call their 1-800 number to set up an appointment. If you qualify, it’s probably worth the effort -- these guys are serious about making some terrific stuff. "The quality of the product is very important to us," Vita says. "We use only organic growing methods and have high-quality standards -- everything is tested internally to ensure efficacy and consistency."

It comes in different strengths, which is cool

"We’re allowed to have five brands -- that’s five strains of flower that we grow," says Vita. "So we are growing multiple strains in Rochester. We have one form of the brand available now, an oral tincture, and that has two ratios -- one high CBD, which we’ve already released, and then one high THC, which will be available next week."

The most interesting part: because they’re making lab-weed, they can alter the ratio of THC to CBD in ways that "don’t exist in nature," as Vita says, like two parts THC to one part CBD.

However, none of this is covered by insurance

Which is incredibly, but predictably, lame of the insurance companies. Columbia Care, however, is a compassionate facility in multiple regards. "We do offer financial subsidies to patients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford this," Vita says, noting that patient access is really important to him and his team.

So basically, Columbia Care is the coolest place that you hopefully won’t ever have to go to (at least, not until marijuana can be prescribed for some very un-serious conditions). Fortunately, in New York, calling your delivery service is still an incredibly easy option, and one that’s at least been decriminalized.

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Jess Novak’s favorite '90s style icon is still Rachel True’s character in Half Baked. She’d love nothing more than for you to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.