The West Coast has been the capital for the majority of the cannabis movement, but the East Coast’s passion for the plant shouldn’t be slept on. Now that things are settling down out West as most states enjoy legal recreational cannabis laws, the renaissance rages on in the East in areas, like New York, that have only recently decriminalized the plant.
The city isn’t holding its breath until legalization gets passed to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, there are still no places to purchase recreational marijuana. But more and more events groups aiming to change that fact are throwing events to celebrate cannabis use in New York City.
In fact, they happen more often than most people would assume because they aren’t open to the general public. Most happen in pop-up locations and invites only go out to trusted members in the cannabis community.
After attending a number of these cannabis-friendly events in New York City, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites.
Twenty Past Four
Dinner guests at Smoke. Eat. Elevate. receive a bowl, lighter and four strains to sample.
(Photo by @michaelyeshion/Instagram)
“Welcome to the fucking Bronx,” is a statement I’ve grown fond of hearing at the beginning of every Twenty Past Four dinner.
Their infused dinners, brunches, and barbecues have been helping New Yorkers elevate their minds and palates. These speakeasy dinners are different than most infused dinners I’ve attended for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, they do not decarboxylate their flowers prior to cooking. Chef Chris, the founder of Twenty Past Four, said the reason is to use the cannabis flowers for flavor like any other herb.
Another thing that sets Twenty Past Four apart from the rest is their all-star line up for chefs including Jose DeJesus AKA Trill Cooker who appeared on Season 18 of Hell’s Kitchen. Every other infused dinner I’ve attended featured dishes from a single star chef.
However, at a few of the Twenty Past Four’s “Smoke. Eat. Elevate” events I attended, every course was the creation of a different talented chef from the Bronx.
Instead of waiting to feel the effects of their cannabinoids, guests at Twenty Past Four’s “Smoke. Eat. Elevate” events are invited to dose themselves with a provided brand new bowl, lighter, hemp wick, and four unique strains of connoisseur quality cannabis to pair with each course. At the dinners I’ve attended, the flowers were courtesy of The Kolektor.
And each dish is prepared using the same strain you smoked before that course. As the dishes hit the table, the chef who prepared it speaks on the inspiration behind their plate. Then, The Kolektor gave guests a detailed description of the strain used, including its lineage, breeder, properties, and aromas.
At the first event I attended, we were given a few different strains including The Kolektor’s Rocky Road #1, Rocky Road #2, and some classic Piff. I loved having a smoke break with a food and cannabis description before each course.
Experiencing gourmet dining while being about as high as I could be is something I’ll always cherish about these dinners. The first time I recall my tastebuds going on a pleasant journey through various flavors and textures in a single dish was at a Twenty Past Four event.
To wrap up each dinner, Chef DeJesus brings out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies he makes using a recipe his daughter came up with; he always give her credit.
Free dabs by the gaming station at Spleef’s High Tea.
(Photo Courtesy of Spleef NYC)
Spleef NYC‘s speakeasy events feel like “pinky-up” affairs with an emphasis on supporting creatives and the normalization of cannabis use. They’re sophisticated enough to prohibit guests from pulling up in pajamas but welcoming enough that you won’t need a suit or blazer to fit in. Their popup events seem to take place at various upscale Air BnB’s throughout New York City.
There’s always live entertainment—whether it’s stand-up comedy, music, or painting. The first one I attended was a “High Tea” party with live art, video games, music, and giveaways with plenty of networking opportunities in between. Every event they put on has a laid-back and fun environment for meeting like-minded people and potential collaborators.
Even though their events aren’t infused dinner parties, I always see infused goodies on fancy plates waiting to be consumed. The tasty infused appetizers like the truffles made by the Happy Chef NYC were a highlight of the night at the Tea Party; I could tell because when I went for seconds, they were almost all already gone. They also had labeled non-infused options for anyone looking to satisfy their munchies without adding to them.
One way Spleef stands out from other NYC events is their focus on the infused beverages. The various infused tea and mocktails I’ve had there should all be bottled and served around the city.
The most recent event I attended was essentially a high art exhibition. After checking my coat, I followed the sound of funky dance music in the distance. Before I made it all the way to the DJ, a wall of framed cannabis shots from various photographers stole my attention.
Once I finished marveling, the next stop was the bar for a “Jamaican Me Crazy” sangria. As I took my first sip, I pulled the glass away from me to give it another look and make sure it was real. That’s when one of Spleef’s founders welcomed me and let me know where the hotbox room for smoking and dabbing was.
After a couple of dabs, I listened in on The Kolektor educating guests on cannabis genetics and cultivation before reaching for one of the jars he brought for guests to smell. As I reached for the lid, I asked which strain it was and he replied “Candycane.” The sweet aroma started leaking out as soon as I twisted the lid off. A deep whiff into the jar made one of my teeth quiver in the same way it would if I just consumed something too sweet. It honestly smelled like a blue raspberry pixie stick.
Once I felt medicated enough to observe art with an open mind, I made my way to the various art exhibits set up throughout the Air BnB. Each room featured various types of artwork from a number of different artists. Whether you prefer sculptures, paintings, or live installations, there were examples of every art form for you to interpret, feel and connect with.
The Menu at WeedFeed’s “Jazz Cabbage Supper Club.”
(Photo Courtesy of WeedFeed)
WeedFeed is best known for creating high-quality video content including infused recipes and tutorials. When they’re not busy cooking and shooting episodes for High Times TV, they’re hosting cannabis-friendly events in New York City.
At their last “Jazz Cabbage Suppler Club” event, WeedFeed’s head chef and cooking-host, Jorden, took over the popular Taiwanese restaurant Win Son in Brooklyn and infused a few dishes their menu.
My favorite course had to be the bao or Taiwanese-style sandwich course. Infused or not, I’d probably do a nose dab out of a sriracha-filled dab rig for another bite.
Guests could request non-infused or extra-infused dishes. I received the standard infusion and definitely felt it creep up on my before we got to the last dish.
After dessert, I asked how everyone was feeling. It was safe to say that we all left with our stomachs and cannabinoid receptors feeling fully satisfied.
NYC Cannabis Film Festival
(Photo Courtesy of @HighNY/Instagram)
The NYC Cannabis Film Festival by High NY showcases the creativity of a wide variety of artists working to use screens to bring awareness to the plant. This year, it was hosted at the House of Yes in Brooklyn. There were short films, documentaries, comedy skits and more.
Every item showcased was unique with one thing connecting them all: the presence of cannabis.
While the plant was a large focus in most of the films shown, a few used it more casually and sparingly. Either way, it was refreshing to see filmmakers shamelessly plugging my favorite plant.
I took advantage of the outdoor patio to smoke during intermission. I walked back in to free ice cream by My Mochi and all-you-can-eat popcorn before my munchies even had a chance to hit.
It could have been because I just smoked before the second round of films, but the skits by Syd and Mike, a comedy duo from New York, had me in stitches. Apparently, the audience agreed; they were awarded for being the crowd favorite. It’s hard to explain their hilarity without spoiling the skits, but you can find their webisodes on their High Times TV channel.
NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally
Dank clouds in the air at the Cannabis Parade & Rally in NYC.
(Photo by @dabhanna/Instagram)
The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally AKA “May Day” started as an annual “Smoke-In” before evolving into a march and then eventually a four-hour rally event with guest speakers and live music.
As a New York native, I am ashamed that I had never attended. That is, until it was brought to my attention this year. I made sure to stop by and I’ll be sure to do so every other year that I’m here because the fight for our right to cultivate and consume cannabis in the state is far from over.
However, on this momentous day, you could feel the change in the air. Joints were lit as far as the eye could see and there were plainclothes NYPD officers all around us. And to my surprise, nobody was being arrested. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
At the rally, speakers took the stage to put an emphasis on social justice and the need to right the wrong that has been done to many nonviolent cannabis consumers, especially black and brown consumers in New York. Noted advocate and veteran Leo Bridgewater encouraged the audience to engage in more activism than just smoking up at the event.
Another activist added that they had better see all of us on the bus to the state’s capital to use our voices and bodies to bring about the change we all want to see.
Sanna CBD Yoga
Rooftop CBD Yoga.
(Photo by @sannacbd/Instagram)
As someone that is always on the move and on the hunt for the terpiest extracts, I rarely find the opportunity to do yoga or use CBD products. After a busy month, I felt the need to stop by one of Sanna CBD Yoga events to see if I could help myself regain mental and physical homeostasis. They take place in various indoor venues and rooftops around New York City and New Jersey.
Being inexperienced, I was concerned with being able to keep up. Fortunately, Sanna’s instructors and founders Stephanie and Salam were there to walk me, a newbie, through all of the poses and breathing exercises within my first session. I may not have been as fluid or held a pose as firmly as the more experienced attendees, but I can say with confidence that I was able to complete every exercise thanks to the clear directions and assistance.
Steph led the class as her partner and fellow founder, Salam, walked around adjusting poses and offering drops from a bottle of CBD tincture to anyone that needed help entering a more relaxed state. Since I came straight from work, I accepted.
By the end of the class, I could already feel less shaky. The contrast from the anxiety I was holding onto when I arrived was apparent and my restless leg syndrome was curbed. It only took one class for me to realize how much my life would benefit from more CBD and yoga.
The intimate dining room setting. (Photo Courtesy of NSFW)
After attending a number of cannabis-centric dinner parties and having an amazing experience every time, I may have stopped looking into the details before accepting an invite. To be honest, if I’m free, I’m there. So, after reading less than half of the e-vite and seeing the words dab plus dinner in the same sentence, I instantly accepted.
After getting the location sent to me on the day of, I spent the hours prior nearby with my significant other, who was my plus one for the dinner.
When we arrived, we rang a bell and waited at the door where we just saw a couple dressed in all black enter. The door was quickly opened and we were greeted before being brought down to the basement of the building. The hallways and rooms were dark, with a few dim colored lights that gave off a certain vibe.
On our way to the dining area, we passed a number of oddly decorated rooms. There was one that looked like a chapel and another that looked like a gynecologist’s office. Down the hallway, there was a giant dome covered in fur that was on a platform with wheels to be moved or spun. And next to it, there was a wall of wooden paddles.
As I poked my head into the rooms we were passing, I saw lube, condoms, and tissues on the coffee tables. By this point, I had seen enough to make my Christian mother faint.
That’s when I realized I brought my girlfriend to what appeared to be a sex dungeon with absolutely no warning. I turn to her and she’s looking back at me making the same realization. We stepped aside to discuss whether we should stay before laughing it off before deciding to embrace the unique experience.
After mingling with other attendees, we found out we were the only guests at the dinner that weren’t members of NSFW’s private “social club for the adventurous,” and it was evident in our attire. Had I read the entire e-vite, we wouldn’t have been surprised.
Everybody else was dressed in all black from head to toe. I happened to be wearing a black graphic T-shirt but my girlfriend was the only person wearing white. If you panned out from her at the dinner table surrounded by men and women uniformly dressed in black, you’d think she was the sacrificial virgin at a cult’s sex ritual.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and the dinner wasn’t overtly sexy. I half expected to see sushi served off of naked bodies but nothing like that occurred. The dinner was just dinner.
Apparently, the raunchier stuff was reserved for the event’s afterparty that I didn’t attend. When asked what would go on there, they didn’t give too much detail. The response was usually “anything.”
One NSFW member told us she didn’t have sex at any of their events. Instead, she attended rope bondage seminars where she discovered that the feeling of being tied up brought her comfort.
The Topstone Vaporizer x Focus Concentrates dab bar. (Photo Courtesy of NSFW)
Being at an underground kink dungeon and interacting with the members of a private and exclusive sex club wasn’t the only memorable part of the evening. Thinking back on Michael Magallanes AKA the Opulent Chef ‘s menu still forces me to involuntarily salivate. Part of his expertise comes from his training as a chef at two Michelin star restaurants.
Furthermore, he is a veteran in both the cannabis and culinary world, earning himself a spot in GreenState’s list of Top 10 Cannabis Chefs in America and a recent feature on 2 Chainz’s Most Expensivest show. Back in his home state of California, his time is spent infusing dishes for his clients based on their tolerance and diets.
Everybody at the Dab Dinner Party got high, but it wasn’t from the food. In fact, I don’t believe anything we ate was infused (if it was it must have been really infused because I completely forgot). However, Focus Concentrates was there with a variety of extracts with flavors from sweet and citrusy to straight-up gas to pair with each course.
The dinner felt like an art gallery where you could get as high as you wanted while appreciating the creative work of an artist. Fortunately for us dabbed-out and munchie-crazed guests, this artwork was edible.
One of the most memorable dishes from Chef Magallanes was a tender Japanese octopus tentacle sitting atop a warm, creamy potato puree with crispy kale chips and pickled daikon cubes. My tongue embarked on an adventure through various textures and flavors with every dish.
The courses were enhanced by Topstone Vaporizers that were pre-packed for us and passed around. Enough of them were handed out for each guest to use their own. In fact, a couple requested extras to drop double dabs between dishes. After each dab, the vaporizers were recollected, repacked with fresh coils for maximum flavor, and redistributed with the next plates.
The device was elegant and easy to use. There’s a touch-activated button that lights up blue as soon as it feels your finger and turns off immediately after you let go. It also magnetically snaps into a portable charging dock. The clear glass surrounding the heating chamber made it easy to see clouds forming and clearing as I sipped them out and chucked them away.
All in all, I had a great time enjoying two of my favorite things to do: eating and dabbing, while gaining perspective on a culture I’d never rubbed shoulders with.
The first place trophy at Blackflag’s NYC Weed Olympics event.
(Photo by @rachelkenaston/Instagram)
Blackflag’s Weed Olympics event was the place to be in NYC on 4/20 this year. Hosted by the hilarious Ken Starz, there were eight teams of four tasked with completing multiple challenges. Teams selected their own names including: “High Rollers,” “Weed Da Best,” “RAW Dogs” and the all-female crew named the “Purple Pussy Punani Puffs.”
The various rounds forced competitors to roll their fanciest joint in a heated contest, guess the weight in a gumball vending machine full of weed, match unmarked jars of bud to their respective strain name, perform a smoke trick with a vape pen, play weed pong, and when the team members were about as high as they could get, they were given two pictures and asked to spot all of the differences.
During the event, there was a surprise performance by THMPSN, the man with a million Instagram followers best known for covering popular hip hop songs with a violin, typically accompanied by a twerking female(s).
The professional joint roller and king of smokeable art, Tony Greenhand, also rolled up an Olympic torch joint that was lit to commemorate the start of the Weed Olympics.
The twins at their Great Gatsby event. (Photo Courtesy of @twin.buds/Instagram)
Twin Buds is what The Bailey Twins go by when they aren’t modeling, acting and making appearances music videos for artists like A$AP Rocky.
In their free time, they’re both active members in New York City’s cannabis community. They have been curating regular events with varying themes that always welcome a 420 crowd since the beginning of the year.
From their classed-up Great Gatsby themed event that included an infused dinner, to the straight-up smoke-filled ragers they throw around the city—live entertainment, smoke, and munchies are almost always a part of the equation.
Their more recent events feature multi-level experiences with something unique taking place at each floor. You can find a DJ getting people moving on the dance floor, local MC’s riling up the crowd on another level, and people getting tattoos, mingling or lighting up on the other floors.
A few chefs are offering up smaller private dinners in New York as well.
One such dinner I attended was the High and Healthy culinary experience with Chef Shawn Hamilton which consisted of five farm-to-table courses with an emphasis on healing with cannabis. His next event is an infused fish fry.
Chef Daniella Davis also brings her private infused dining experiences from LA to the NYC cannabis community. Her next event will have a number of fusion dishes meshing together flavors from the Carribbean, Asia, and South America.
Attending New York Cannabis Events
With the recent decriminalization of marijuana in New York, cannabis-friendly events are only going to get more popular. However, aside from a couple of events like the parade, most of these events are still not open public. You will probably need to know someone that has been to one to get an invite. However, when you’re there, you can feel that you’re taking part in an important part of American history.