Recreational marijuana may not be legal just yet in the Big Apple, but that doesn't seem to stop anyone from partaking.
According to German research firm ABCD, New York City dwellers are smoking more weed than any other city in the United States — or the world, for that matter. Divided among the city's 8.6 million residents, then again among actual consumers, New Yorkers went through about 77.44 metric tons of marijuana in 2018, or 171,000 pounds.
With 4/20 approaching, New York is likely to keep getting just as high.
What to Know About New York's Smoking Laws
New York City is an oasis amid the more conservative cities and towns outside of the five boroughs, although 65% of all New York voters support legalizing recreational marijuana. Nevertheless, don't flaunt it.
Marijuana possession was decriminalized in 1977, but arrests continued for decades until current Mayor Bill de Blasio directed the NYC police force to stop arresting and issue tickets instead, which has changed the cannabis culture in NYC. But cannabis consumers should still be cautious.
“Even though Manhattan and Brooklyn district attorneys vowed to stop prosecuting cannabis offenses, consuming in public is still a misdemeanor. If you're lucky and only get a summons, instead of arrested, you can still be on the hook for up to $150 in fines,” said New York City attorney David Holland. “So relaxing the rules for arrests has not meant that the rules for issuing fines have also been relaxed. You must still toke at your own risk.”
Bottom line: don't carry weed on you and read up on the New York state laws.
What to do on 4/20 in New York
While adult use isn't legal in NYC yet, there is still a ton of fun cannabis-related events to help celebrate the biggest weed holiday of the year. With parties, parades, panels, and even community cleanups, there is something for every stoner looking to get in the 4/20 spirit in the Big Apple.
New York City Cannabis Parade & Rally
Okay, so this isn't actually on April 20, but the New York City Cannabis Parade and Rally is an important cannabis event in NYC that's not to be missed. One of the longest-running marijuana events in the world, it started in Greenwich Village's Washington Square Park in 1970 as a smoke-in and is now a two-part event: a parade down Broadway and a rally in Union Square Park. Everyone who is anyone among politicians, entertainers, and weed activists usually show up.
- The parade assembles in midtown Manhattan, near 32nd Street and Broadway
- May 4, 11 a.m.
Grn Day 420 Party
Enjoy an infused buffet, raffle, vendors and trays of drinks and edibles while listening to a live performance by Pat Toussaint, Conan, and house music by Ms. Bluntler & DJ Dprizzy. And wear your dancing shoes.
- Secret location, 100 W. 36th St., Midtown Manhattan
- April 20. 3- 10 p.m.
- Price: $50-$70
The ideal fusion of a lit 4/20 party with the New York day-rave, Weed Rave is a day-to-night event for the stoner who wants to party from 4:20 into the early hours. The event will include DJ sets, CBD yoga, a cannabis cooking class, two cannabis discussion panels, and a bong competition — all out of a homey Brooklyn loft space. Presale ticketholders will also get a copy of Michelle Lhooq's new book “Weed: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask.” (Michelle Lhooq is a Weedmaps News contributor)
- Private Brooklyn loft
- April 20, 4:20 PM to April 21, 2:30 AM
- Price: $35; VIP $100
Described as a “multidimensional cannabis inspired, cross-pollinating celebration” of music, movement, magic, and marijuana, organizers say prepare to explore all five senses with all things that flower, heal, and tantalize. Deepen your knowledge of usage, create takeaways for personal benefit, and advocate for an equitable cannabis industry, while enjoying sounds by Treya Lam with movement with choreographer Jules Bakshi.
- The William Vale, 111 N. 12th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- April 20. 8.-11:30 p.m.
- Price: $40 (early bird- available until sold out) - $55 (late bloomer)
Synchronicity Walk and Clean Up
Earth Day and 4/20 almost synchronize, which seems natural. This year's Synchronicity Walk and Earth Day Cleanup is a first for the Soul Tribe network, which is celebrating the cannabis plant and respect for Mother Earth. The idea of the walk, which is going on in six major cities around the country, is to strengthen people's connection to their intuition, clean up their surroundings and spread the word about the Soul Tribe Network. Brooklyn organizers recommend blazing up and letting the universe lead the way … and to bring some green for the secret after-party event.
- Meet in Prospect Park West, Brooklyn
- April 20. 11:11 a.m.–1:11 p.m.
- Free admission
Higher Etiquette Live!
Brendan Francis Newman, author of “Brunch Is Hell” will speak with Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and head of the Emily Post Institute who wrote “Higher Etiquette.” Denis Zabludovsky, Director of Research and Education at Nugg, and Boris Shcharansky of Papa & Barkley will also be on hand to discuss such issues as where to begin your journey with cannabis; how to bring cannabis to a dinner party or give it as a gift; the difference between inhaling and ingesting cannabis; understanding proper dosage and why strains affect users differently.
Enjoy brunch cocktails from Recess and cannabidiol (CBD) brew from Flower Power Coffee with panelists who will stick around after the meeting.
- Lululemon 114 Fifth Ave. NYC 10011
- April 20. 10:00 am – 12:00 p.m. EST
- Free admission
An Evening in Lettuce
The Women's Cannabis Club is teaming up with HeadCount's Cannabis Voter Project for a 7:00 pm pre-show hang at Garcia's at the Capitol Theater, which the late Jerry Garcia called one of the best stages he and the Grateful Dead had ever performed on. The group will then head into the Capitol Theater for an evening of funk with the music of Lettuce.
- The Capitol Theater, 149 Westchester Ave., Port Chester
- April 20. Doors 8:00 p.m. Show 9:00 p.m. EST
- Price: $35/$55 Advance $40/$60 at door
Tips From New York City Locals
While many New Yorkers candidly admit they've been consuming marijuana for years, often in public, no one wants to have problems with the law now that they're so close to full legalization.
Jen Bernstein, a freelance writer and manager of Women's Cannabis Club, still thinks about being discreet — even on 4/20.
“If you're walking around town or plan to be in the parks, bring along a vape pen or cartridge/battery for more discreet celebrating,” said Bernstein. “Edibles like gummies are a great way to enjoy 4/20 without blowing up your spot!”
Others, like Rick Cusick, veteran High Times associate publisher, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) board member, and co-founder of Whoopi & Maya, seems less worried.
“If you've got weed but no money, smoke a joint and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge,” he said “When you get to the Brooklyn side, take a hairpin turn to the edge of the river and for five bucks, take a taxi boat across the Hudson to 33rd Street. The Brooklyn Bridge is a piece of art. And besides, if you smoke on the bridge, who the hell is going to stop you?”