New York Cannabis Dispensaries: How To Spot Licensed vs Illicit

There are over 1,400 illicit dispensaries operating in New York City right now and crackdowns are on the way as the legal market begins taking root. With all these illicit cannabis shops flashing bright, neon green signs touting the products they have, it can be difficult to spot the licensed adult-use shops from the illicit ones. Here’s some quick tips for doing just that. 

1) Check The Number of Locations

If you see a shop unabashedly advertising its THC products, odds are it’s not licensed by New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (“Office”). As of this writing, there are only five licensed adult-use shops in the whole state, three of which are in Manhattan, one in Binghamton, and the latest in Ithaca. So, unless you’re in one of these four shops, it’s not licensed. 

2) Confirm Security, Security, Security

Entering any licensed dispensary will require an ID check. You will not be able to enter a shop without having your ID checked or scanned to make sure you are over the age of 21. If you can walk into a shop without having your card checked to enter—and especially so if you don’t need to have it looked at when buying any products—it’s not licensed. 

3) Look for the QR Code

The Office has unveiled a verification QR code which is located at the front of each licensed dispensary. You will see on the front door or one of the front windows a blue logo with a verification QR code that you can scan to make sure the shop you’re about to enter is licensed. This is a valuable and easy to spot tool to weed out the licensed from the illicit. 

new york cannabis QR license code

Sample New York State Cannabis License QR Code


4) Verify Tested and Approved Cannabis Products

Now why does any of this matter? Weed is weed right? Not necessarily.

An important factor in going to a licensed shop is knowing what exactly is in the product you’re buying. Licensed shops will have products that have been tested and approved of by laboratories to ensure the quality of the product and put customers minds at ease that what they’re buying is what they’re getting.

With licensed shops as well, there’s the incentive to support businesses which have taken the time, energy, and costs to go through all the regulatory hurdles necessary to get up and running. Now that licensed shops are opening in New York, it’s vital to support the businesses which you can trust in and rely on.  


How to Open a Legal Cannabis Business In New York

If you’re thinking of joining the cannabis industry in New York, the only safe and reliable way is through legitimate means. This involves understanding the current rules, regulations, and business license opportunities there are changing on a near monthly basis. If this sounds daunting, our team of New York cannabis consultants are standing by to put your cannabis dream in motion. Don’t let the complexity of the application process nor the illicit imitators push you away.


Connect with our experts now and we’ll put your future business success in motion. 

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