Where can I use my medical marijuana card?
Ten companies run the five boroughs' dispensaries. Each spent a lot of money to get licensed, each is required by NYC medical marijuana law to have a medical professional on staff, and each is pushing more or less the same product. But a few stand out from the pack.
Curaleaf opened its first NY dispensary in Hudson Valley last year. It’s since spun out new locations on Long Island and in Forest Hills. Its Queens dispensary looks like a vintage Apple store: sleekly designed in a minimalist fashion with a white-on-white color scheme incorporating splashes of green. Curaleaf aims to nurture an atmosphere reminiscent of the American pharmacy of yesterday, according to Mike Conway, head of operations in New York. The so-called “RX aesthetic” has become common in dispensaries throughout the country, shifting the perception of marijuana from vice to a more alchemical or pharmaceutical necessity. Instead of tie-dye and dancing bears, it’s scales, mortars and pestles. Its objective is evident in Curaleaf’s kind, knowledgeable staff. Marijuana is a complex plant and the way it is grown can greatly impact how it affects you. Having access to a keen pharmacist to help you find the right product on site can make all the difference. Dispensaries are legally prohibited from using quirky labels like Gorilla Glue or Girl Scout Cookies for their vapes or tinctures, so you’ll see more subdued names. Curaleaf caries vapes, capsules and sublingual tinctures as well as CBD dog treats. You’ll choose from three different strains: blue indica, blue sativa and a half and half hybrid. Curaleaf recently started selling $25 disposable vapes -- currently the cheapest product available in New York’s medical program.
Columbia Care, which has a location in Union Square and a Brooklyn Heights store set to open, takes a similar approach. Emphasizing ultra-personal data-driven recommendations, it strives to provide a bespoke cannabis experience. This approach can help the customer avoid negative outcomes like paranoia, lethargy and panic attacks. According to Nicholas Vita, Columbia Care’s CEO, its medical professionals look at your age, sex, background, symptoms and desired outcome to match you with the best possible product. A thirty-year-old female suffering from PTSD, for example, may be recommended ClaraCeed, Columbia Care’s high-CBD low-THC strain. Columbia care has vapes and tinctures, as well as tablets, lotions and suppositories. Its products come in three different formulas: high THC (Theraceed), high CBD (Claraceed), or half and half (Eleceed).
MedMen opened on Fifth Avenue in Midtown last year to heaps of fanfare and media coverage due to its primo location and overall presentation. Interest has cooled somewhat, but a trip here is still an experience. MedMen’s clearly shooting for a high end aesthetic, beating the Apple drum louder than anyone, with stark white lights, glass enclosures, and plenty of signature red merchandise (of the apparel variety). A visit here is a little like a trip to the Disney store, but it’s worth a stop to see what all the fuss is about.