In the City That Never Sleeps, cannabis is on the rise. According to the 2022 MJBiz Factbook, New York’s adult-use retail market is projected to generate $1-1.2 billion in revenue for 2023. The highly-anticipated conditional license retail stores haven’t opened yet, but the city’s coolest cannabis experiences are alive and well, bringing residents and visitors alike to more education around how the plant fits with their lifestyles. As always, Honeysuckle has the skinny on the jumping joints and industry insiders to know. Add these to your canna-bucket list!
For Native New Yorkers: Buddy’s Bodega
A premium cannabis delivery service and globally recognized brand, Buddy’s Bodega was born in the heart of the Big Apple in 2018, with the aspiration to curate the best menu for New Yorkers by New Yorkers. Featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, High Times, Leafly, and of course Honeysuckle, Buddy’s Bodega is rooted in an understanding of what wows the East Coast consumer. Co-founders Byron Bronson and Lou Cantillo have maintained the company’s mission: Introducing top-quality products while educating, growing, and strengthening the cannabis community. Indeed, Buddy’s has become known for providing the “best of the best” in all product categories. This is partly to do with the brand’s close ties to California, where the highest caliber of cannabis is cultivated, and partly because the Buddy’s team knows how to mobilize their community for a good time. From championing accessible events like Soul Kitchen, to helping honor fellow advocates at the NYC Cannabis Awards and organize local education and health-focused gatherings, Buddy’s has their focus right at home.
This February, they teamed up with The Astor Club, one of NYC’s most esteemed clubs, to produce VIP extravaganzas. Their partnership grew throughout the year, including an exclusive 420 rooftop celebration at the McKittrick Hotel, and an upcoming East Coast growers invitational called the Greenwolf East Coast Zalympix. In Bronson and Cantillo’s own words, “We are sharing our love of the plant with the world.” Find out more @buddysbodega.shop.
For VIP Access: The Astor Club
Originally touted in Forbes as one of “the most risque things to do in New York City,” The Astor Club is a members-only cannabis club on the Lower East Side. Though they’ve come more into prominence as a lifestyle brand since then, organizing outside events with the flair and gusto to make them the successors to New York’s greatest cultural impresarios, the Astor Club vibe as a whole is to remain secret. If you know, you know. Frequently featured in the New York Times, the Astor Club is a veritable who’s who of cannabis industry insiders and celebs, playing host to special guests like rapper Joey Bada$$, Shameless actor Ethan Cutkosky, producer and DJ Scram Jones, reggae artist Rocker-T, and many more. The atmosphere is chill, but in the best tradition of smoke-easies, you’ll need a friend to get in. Find out more @astorclubnyc.
For Culinarians: Stoned Gourmet Cannabis Pizza
It takes a vision and untethered relentlessness to revolutionize an industry, especially one as particular as making pizza. No surprise then that in 2017, the rise of a new kind of pizza would emerge in New York City. Stoned Gourmet Cannabis Pizza was created by Chef Chris Barrett (AKA The Pizza Pusha), who describes himself as “an Italian kid born and raised in Brooklyn.” Growing up with a passion and seasoned palate for pizza, Chris took a six-month trip to California in 2015 that engaged his lightbulb moment, changing the way that people enjoy pizza forever. On the West Coast, he was invited to a cannabis dinner and wanted to be among the first to bring a similar experience to New York. By combining the things he loved most - private events, great food, the perfect ambience, celebrities and other cool guests, his dream became an instant sensation.
Today, The Pizza Pusha and Stoned Pizza have been featured in multiple high-profile media outlets, including the New York Times, CBS, New York Magazine, Vice, New York Post, FOX News, New York Daily News, The Source, and TMZ. The brand operates a restaurant in the East Village and a Lower East Side location that hosts regular exclusive supper clubs. Among the celebrity guests Stoned Pizza has welcomed are The LOX’s Jadakiss and Styles P, rapper Method Man, entrepreneur Rohan Marley (son of Bob Marley), and the late music executive Andre Harrell.
Chris is dedicated to giving back as well, getting involved with numerous events and organizations that help justice-impacted individuals in the cannabis community. When looking at his gourmet empire, he often reminds himself, “Cannabis paid for all this, but there are people who just came home.” He makes it part of his mission to support those working to free the thousands remaining incarcerated on cannabis charges. Find out more at thepizzapusha.com and @pizzapusha on Instagram.
For Downtown Sophisticates: Hidden Garden
Hidden Garden is a nighttime cafe experience from the creative minds of HighGarden and Work’n’Roll. Open weekly, this penthouse in New York's Chelsea neighborhood offers city views, cafe style service, live entertainment and elevated cozy vibes. Come sip on warm or cold beverages, snack on waffles, try exclusive gadgets and special treats! The team just celebrated Hidden Garden’s one-year anniversary, so it’s a great time to discover the magic inside. Follow @highgarden.nyc for more info on Hidden Garden and other High-end events!
For OG Music Lovers: Certz
Certz is a multimillion-dollar brand recognized worldwide for its premium strains, one-of-a-kind merch, and absolutely fire events at its exclusive Midtown lounge. Owner and creator Steph V also helms the music label Certz Entertainment; his work in hip hop is legendary, as he’s produced hit records for artists including Jim Jones, The LOX, Lumidee, Yung LB, the late Black Rob, and many more. One of the original New York legacy providers, Steph V has made Certz the go-to brand for cannabis lovers with serious creative talent. In recent years, Certz has expanded even further through its partnership with Yung LB’s JokesUp, allowing for the release of strains that “close the gap” between coast cultures and events that put key operators in the same room. That’s a tune we can all sing to! Find out more @certzbrand.
For Art Enthusiasts: Wolf Stoner Queen
You haven’t truly smoked like a New Yorker until you’ve tried one of Wolf Stoner Queen’s rolls. The content creator and artisan roller is a staple of the Five Boroughs’ cannabis scene. She has rolled and created an amazing array of custom blunts and joints, including for celebrities such as RAW founder Josh Kesselman. You can find her showcasing her skills for your smoking pleasure at events around the East Coast, particularly those hosted by women-owned brand TribeTokes or in her role as an ambassador for the lifestyle brand Happy Munkey. Check out her standout artistic works and tips for smoking at @wolf_stoner_queen on Instagram.
For Entrepreneurs and Advocates: Dasheeda Dawson, New York’s First Cannabis Czar
Industry trailblazer Dasheeda Dawson has been officially appointed Founding Director of Cannabis NYC, making her the city’s first official “cannabis czar.” Dawson will lead the agency, which is run through the City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and direct strategies to support the emerging cannabis market through education, services to cannabis entrepreneurs and businesses, legislative advocacy, and public levels of government. Born and raised in Brooklyn, and a corporate-to-cannabis industry leader who was pivotal to the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA), Dawson is widely viewed as the perfect candidate for the role. Among her achievements, Dawson is co-founder and Chief Strategist of the Cannabis Health Equity Movement (CHEM), Board Chair of the national Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC), and a co-founder with her sisters Imani and Ice Dawson of Community Education Advocacy Symposium and Expo (CEASE), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit educating communities across the country about the myriad of opportunities in the cannabis industry. Most recently, she worked as the City of Portland’s Cannabis Program Manager, becoming at that time only the third Black woman in history to lead a government cannabis agency.
From political leaders to cannabis experts, reactions across the board to Dawson’s appointment have been ecstatic. New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who worked with Dawson on initiatives like creating the state’s EquityPAC political action committee, called Dasheeda “one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished professionals in the space.” Joseph Bondy, one of the nation's leading cannabis and criminal defense attorneys and a member of the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), stated that “The mayor could not have appointed a better qualified person than Dasheeda Dawson to serve as the founding director of Cannabis NYC. For many years, Dasheeda has represented the absolute best in our American cannabis legalization movement… I have no doubt that Dasheeda will ensure fairness in our city’s cannabis industry and culture, and facilitate participation by all interested New Yorkers, regardless of background or economic status.” Shaleen Title, co-founder of CRCC and CEO of The Parabola Center, echoed the thoughts on fairness and noted that “New York City is lucky to have a leader with her vision and determination.”
We couldn’t agree more! Congratulations to Dasheeda Dawson and the City of New York!
To learn more about Dasheeda Dawson's role as Cannabis NYC Founding Director, click here.
A version of this article was published in Honeysuckle's milestone 15th print edition. Click here to get your copy now!
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The Certz party for Rolling Loud NYC, September 2022 (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture