Legal cannabis delivery gaining ground among NYC dispensaries (2024)

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When Long Island City dispensary NYCBUD launched delivery sales in February, owner Jonpaul Pezzo thought his shop would be inundated with delivery calls right away – but the actual trajectory has been different.

“It was really nothing for the first week and a half, which was stressful because we didn’t know what to do for staffing,” Pezzo said. “But we’ve noticed that it’s slowly ramping up.”

Right now, deliveries make up about 5% of NYCBUD’s sales, which Pezzo said is lower than he and partners expected. Even so, as they become more familiar with which customer demographics lean toward licensed delivery services and adjust operations with demand, Pezzo believes deliveries will eventually be a key – and growing – part of the store’s revenue.

“Where do I see it going? I envision delivery to be the main part of the business.”

Long before cannabis legalization seemed like a serious prospect, informal delivery services served as a primary retail method for the underground weed market. As many of the increasing number of licensed dispensaries coming online are also operating delivery services, entrepreneurs are working out the kinks, and figuring out in real time how important deliveries will be to their bottom lines.

Home delivery for licensed cannabis retailers appears to be on a growth trajectory, according to data gathered by Onfleet, a tech company that makes cannabis delivery management software.

Much like with apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, the COVID 19 pandemic seems to have increased customers’ comfort with ordering weed online, according to Onfleet.

“Dispensary operators quickly adjusted their business models [in 2020], with 79% rolling out curbside pickup and delivery service,” Onfleet reported. “By December 2020, cannabis deliveries had increased 300% since the start of the pandemic.”

NYCBUD’s delivery range is basically a five-mile radius around the shop, with deliveries primarily going to Queens and parts of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, Pezzo said. Of the shop’s 25 employees, five are delivery drivers who use bicycles and electric scooters to make their stops.

The store usually receives just a few delivery orders each day, so employees also do budtending or fulfillment when they’re not delivering, Pezzo said.

“You don’t know if one day you’re going to get a rain storm and everybody who would normally come into the store would just flip the script to delivery, so it’s a delicate balancing act,” Pezzo said.

Legal cannabis delivery gaining ground among NYC dispensaries (1)

But the store is starting to see regular delivery customers who tend to be older and more comfortable buying from a licensed store rather than unlicensed stores, or underground delivery services that operate on encrypted apps like Telegram, he said.

Although New York’s legacy operators long ago cornered the delivery market, Pezzo sees an opportunity to expand his delivery customer base. The residential buildings in his area are mostly occupied by New York transplants – rather than native New Yorkers – many of whom don’t have connections with legacy dealers and are spooked about buying illegally.

In Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, VERDI Cannabis is also figuring out how to expand its delivery customers, owner Ellis Soodak said. The store offers no-fee delivery to anywhere in Manhattan and has one delivery worker who uses a bike. VERDI is looking to hire a second delivery worker.

Sales at VERDI’s brick-and-mortar store make up the vast majority of the business’ revenue, Soodak said, but they’re doing a few deliveries per day now. Some customers are new consumers who don’t want to buy from illicit shops, and others are people who want to buy legally, but don’t want to be seen in a dispensary.

Some of VERDI’s delivery customers are people who also buy from legacy delivery services, and Soodak believes VERDI can win the loyalty of those customers.

“If you’re contacting a Telegram number, they’re like, ‘I’m going to be there from 5 to 7 p.m. – and you’re ordering at noon – I only have these three strains right now, and it’s $50 per eighth,’” Soodak said. “We’re delivering $35 eighths with 500 different SKUs on our menu, all safe, tested products.”

However, Soodak and Pezzo both said complicated payment systems can be alienating to customers, especially older people. New York’s delivery regulations don’t allow for cash sales, and most credit card companies don’t allow customers to pay for weed with them.

This means they have to enter bank account information into an online portal, which, Pezzo said, is too confusing for some, while others have misgivings about entering such information into an online platform.

Outcompeting with better service is an important part of VERDI’s delivery model, Soodak said. VERDI’s delivery driver is well-versed in cannabis, and knows the stores’ menu as well as any budtender on staff. Rather than operating like pizza delivery drivers, Soodak said, VERDI’s delivery workers are more like door-to-door salespeople who can tell customers all about the products they’re buying.

Legal cannabis delivery gaining ground among NYC dispensaries (2)

Soodak hopes VERDI will eventually do about five deliveries per day, which would add about $150,000 to the store’s annual revenue.

Happy Days dispensary on Long Island is rolling out a delivery service in the next couple of weeks, said Paul Lepore, co-owner of the Farmingdale store.

The store, which is doing about $425,000 in sales per week at its brick-and-mortar shop – according to Lepore – will start off with a relatively small delivery range, and will expand over time to cover most of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Lepore wants Happy Days to eventually have 10 vehicles with about 15 staffers dedicated to deliveries. Over time, Lepore believes deliveries will account for an increasing share of all legal retail sales – especially when he looks at trends in the non-cannabis world.

“You see stores closing all over the place, you see more online banking … people are not going to physical brick-and-mortar locations across a wide variety of industries,” Lepore said. “I definitely think it’s a necessity and I definitely think it’s heading in that direction.”

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Legal cannabis delivery gaining ground among NYC dispensaries (2024)


Is cannabis delivery legal in NYC? ›

Adults 21 years or older can purchase up to three ounces (85 grams) of cannabis flower and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis (oils, tincture, edibles, vapes, etc.) in a single day for delivery in New York.

Why are there so few dispensaries in NYC? ›

The most straightforward explanation for why there are few recreational dispensaries in New York state is that the licensing process under the Office of Cannabis Management is complicated, and the state's selection process has faced legal challenges.

How many illegal cannabis dispensaries are there in NYC? ›

The lack of legal dispensaries and the overwhelming proliferation of illegal ones are the biggest concerns of the rollout three years after legalization.

Can California dispensaries ship to NY? ›

Cannabis is legal in both New York and California, but it's against the law to ship it between the states.

Can New Yorkers order cannabis online? ›

Is it legal for a New Yorker to have weed shipped from California? It is illegal to ship weed, or even to carry weed, across state lines. There are a lot of state lines between California and New York.

What is the delivery system for cannabis? ›

There are four main medical cannabis delivery systems — inhalation, ingestion, oral absorption, and topical. Scroll down to learn the differences among each method to help decide which one is right for you.

Are there any real dispensaries in NYC? ›

More than two years since cannabis was legalized in the state, only 26 dispensaries, and just 11 of them in New York City, have actually opened their doors. (Metaphorically, at least, since some of them are delivery only.)

Can anyone buy from a dispensary in NYC? ›

Yes, with some caveats. Thanks to a bill passed by Albany lawmakers in 2021, New Yorkers 21 years and older can possess, use, buy, transport, smoke or consume up to three ounces of marijuana and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, used in products like tinctures, vape pen oils or butters.

How much can you buy from a dispensary at a time in NY? ›

Cannabis Flower: Adults can purchase and possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower at one time. Concentrated Cannabis Products: The limit for concentrated cannabis products, such as oils, tinctures, or edibles, is 24 grams per purchase.

Can I buy recreational cannabis in NYC? ›

Legal Adult Use and Possession in NYC

You can buy cannabis at adult-use or medical dispensaries licensed by the State Office of Cannabis Management. Licensed dispensaries post a New York State Licensed Cannabis Dispensary decal (PDF) on or near their main entrance.

Which dispensaries are legal in NYC? ›

8 Best Dispensaries In NYC For Legal Weed This 4/20
  • Where: 3 E 3rd St.
  • Where: 835 Broadway.
  • Where: 750 Broadway.
  • Where: 144 Bleecker St.
  • Where: 85 Delancey St.
  • Where: 36-10 Ditmars Blvd, Queens.
  • Where: 817 E Tremont Ave, The Bronx.
  • Where: 27-25 44th Dr, Queens.
Apr 16, 2024

How many dispensary licenses are there in NYC? ›

There was applause Friday during a meeting of the state Cannabis Control Board after it decided to approve the licenses of over 100 new retail stores, more than doubling the number of stores than can sell marijuana products in New York. The board granted 114 licenses, bringing the number of adult-use licenses to 223.

Is Doobie delivery legit? ›

Yes, Doobie is a licensed cannabis delivery service or works directly with a state licensed dispensary partner.

Can I buy from a dispensary without a medical card in New York? ›

No. Only certified patients with a New York State registry identification card may purchase approved medical cannabis products in New York State.

Is THCA indica or sativa? ›

Because it's an isolated cannabinoid, THCA powder is not classified by strain or as a sativa, hybrid or indica product.

Can I go to a dispensary without a card in NY? ›

Do I need a medical card? No medical card is needed at adult-use recreational dispensaries. Customers look at marijuana products at the Housing Works Cannabis Co. Thursday, December, 29, 2022, in Manhattan, New York.

What cannabis products are legal in NY? ›

Adults age 21 and older can have up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower or bud, and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis (such as oils and vapes). It is not legal for anyone younger than age 21 to have, use or share cannabis. Can people share, sell or trade cannabis?

Is cannabis infused food legal in New York? ›

Businesses in New York selling food infused with cannabis are illegal and their foods could put customers at risk, Ghitelman warned.

Are recreational cannabis dispensaries open in NYC? ›

Manhattan: Dagmar Cannabis – 412 W Broadway, NY 10012, (Opening on Friday, Dec 15, 2023), the first adult-use dispensary in SoHo, woman-owned. THC Herbal Care – 1412 Lexington Ave., New York 10128, (Tentative opening, January 4, 2024), the first adult-use dispensary in Upper East Side.


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