The Lower East Side gallery is a godsend for recreational and medical shoppers awaiting the state’s sluggish legal rollout
Scoring legal cannabis in New York remains a challenge for both residents and visitors. Despite the state’s exciting progress on medical and adult-use cannabis, there are still a lot of obstacles to getting hands on legal flower and other products. In October, New York’s Cannabis Control Board finally voted to allow the sale of flower in all medical dispensaries. Up until then, the state’s 150,000-plus medical residents had been limited to non-flower products like tinctures and edibles.
Adult-use buyers have also been left to navigate the gray zone painted by New York’s Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act as they await updates from the CCC. MRTA guidelines allow possession, consumption, and gifting of cannabis goods ahead of the state’s highly-anticipated legal adult-use framework. But many residents and visitors are still unclear about how to safely and legally find top shelf flower across the Empire State.
When we visited the Legacy NYC gallery in November, Hip Hop history was on full display via the photography of Sue Kwon’s Rap Is Risen exhibit. Tough-to-find exclusives like the Iverson 96 strain by Viola were flying out of the door like the NBA Hall of Famer’s signature Reebok sneakers in his playing days. And the staff went out of their way to create a welcoming and engaging atmosphere that prioritizes legal compliance. That’s all we needed to see to know this shrine to the pioneers of New York’s art and cannabis cultures will be a staple of the city’s legal weed scene for many years to come.
Keep scrolling to take a Leafly look from behind the lens of Brooklyn photographer Meg Schmidt, and get a feel for why Legacy NYC is a must-stop shop for any bud lover looking to get legally baked in The Big Apple.
What is Legacy NYC?
Since fall 2021, Legacy NYC has spearheaded the gray area of legal weed in New York. They stay legal by gifting premium flower, pre-rolls, and edibles from industry leaders like Viola, and upcoming brands like RBG.
Located on the Lower East Side, Legacy NYC (98 Orchard St.), their website describes the gallery as a “cultural destination to enjoy MRTA compliant gifted cannabis in a gallery space that highlights local New York artwork.”
The gassed up gallery is run by rapper and activist M-1 of dead prez and his ultra-influential partner Umi. And the well-connected duo are using their juice to provide exclusive products and unique events that draw just as strong of crowds as their legal loud.
How does Legacy NYC provide legal flower without a retail license?
You must remember that Legacy NYC is not a dispensary. When you walk into the doors, it looks and feels like many other Manhattan art galleries. The spacious and spotless showroom includes comfortable seating, brilliant lighting, and a safe space for cannabis consumers of all varieties.
Whether you are visiting during rush hours or slow shifts, you will be attracted to spend an extra minute or two in the exhibition room admiring the beautiful work on display before asking about the dank. And you will be just as pleased with the gifts you receive on your way out of the door as by the incredible work from NYC’s finest local artists.
The Legacy NYC gallery is a required destination to honor unsung OGs in the art and cannabis industries. The exhibits change regularly, so routine customers can expect new looks that get them stuck like Gorilla Glue.
The good news for art lovers is that you can purchase select works from local artists and receive a gift on your way out of the door. But you may be disappointed if you walk in expecting to buy the actual art that’s on display. That’s because you’re more likely to receive a digital download of local art to take home with your trees.
What is the gift-receiving experience like for MRTA-compliant shopper?
When it’s time to get your gift, Legacy NYC’s highly capable staff will walk you through the unique process with charm and confidence.
If you want to prepare ahead of time, the gallery’s site includes some basic pointers for first-timers. They include, “never ask to buy weed, as that is still within a legal gray area,” and “be sure to use the correct terminology by asking for a menu of products that include an MRTA-compliant gift.”
While it may seem confusing, the site promises that once you understand the process of gifting, copping legally in NYC is as easy as Cherry Pie. Those familiar with Washington DC’s gift-centric legal market will recognize the beauty of this process. Considering the rich history of artists who’ve used cannabis to inspire, fund, and brand their creative work, Legacy’s pairing of pot and culture looks like poetic justice if we ever saw it.
What kind of art exhibits does Legacy NYC host?
Legal trees aren’t the only thing drawing crowds into this sacred space. In November, Sue Kwon candidly portrayed rap’s movers and shakers in pics snapped between 1988 and 2008. And December brought a Weed the People event to the space. Followed by January’s special Viola meet-and-greet that included special giveaways and prizes.
The cannabis industry uses terms like “legacy” to honor the original pioneers of the legal market. That’s because words like “illicit” and “black market” criminalize both OG participants, and the plant itself. Terms like “original,” “pioneer,” and “legacy,” on the other hand, honor the essential contributors that often go overlooked. That’s why this shop’s founders couldn’t have found a better name to bring their vision to life.
Artists have documented the underground influence pot culture has had on pop culture for over a century. From jazz pioneers like Cab Calloway, who coined the slang term “reefer” with his 1932 song “Reefer Man,” to legendary rappers like Redman, Snoop Dogg, and the Lil’ Kim, all of whom have dozens of lyrics and entire songs that profess their love for the federally forbidden plant.
These artists’ open advocacy played an undeniable part in destigmatizing the plant and making today’s legal markets possible. Every time you enter Legacy NYC, the crucial relationship between cannabis and creativity takes center stage.
What are the current MRTA guidelines for legal weed in New York?
Adults who are visiting or live in New York are now able to enjoy legal, high-quality marijuana across the state. Thanks to new laws, the plant is now legal to possess and use wherever tobacco is. But that doesn’t mean that every seller is compliant, or carrying authentic products.
Legacy NYC’s website says “knowing where to buy weed in NYC takes some research.” That’s because “not every NYC dispensary is as transparent and compliant with the law as Legacy NYC.”
To avoid the headache of chasing down the right dispensary, Legacy curates monthly gallery showings. These exclusive events expand access to legal weed for all New Yorkers and visitors.
Enjoy the full gallery of photos from Legacy NYC below. And be sure to add this must-stop shop to your tourism destination list next time you visit NYC.