The Art Of Chasing Smoke: How Marijuana Is Transforming New York City

The Art Of Chasing Smoke: How Marijuana Is Transforming New York City

The art of chasing smoke is a movement that originated in the early ’90s as a way for smokers to differentiate between different strains of marijuana by drawing them on bags or rolling papers with unique designs.

The New York cannabis industry has come a long way from the illegal cannabis trade in the 1970s, to the opening of New York’s first recreational dispensaries in 2020 but cannabis users in New York have their hands full. Marijuana laws are constant, and cannabis card renewals are troublesome. Pot shops remain in legal limbo for a person who hails from another legalized state, but who now gets stoned regularly in the Big Apple. To go from smoker’s nod to the serious business of legalized marijuana is difficult. And then there’s the trouble of getting a recreational high that doesn’t involve breaking the law at all.

In order to get high legally, you need a medical marijuana card from your doctor and then visit one of only five dispensaries currently open in New York City (though there are dozens more around New York State). Each dispensary has its own list of eligible conditions and restrictions on how much cannabis they can sell you per month (the maximum is 2 ounces). You also need an ID proving you live within New York City limits, which will cost you $172 every two years if you’re over 18.

New York City is home to an estimated 1 million people with medical marijuana cards, according to a report by The New York Times. But many more residents smoke weed without any legal protection at all — including many people who are employed by the city government or work for companies that do business with it.

New York City has a well-established illegal legacy cannabis market. It’s a $6 billion industry that has been operating in the shadows for decades. While many people are excited about legalized weed in New York, there are still some concerns about how this will impact NYC’s already thriving legacy market.

For many people who have been operating underground businesses for decades, legalization means an opportunity to finally be part of the aboveground economy. And as legalization spreads across America, these same people are taking their decades of expertise and applying it to newly opened markets around NYC.

In New York City, one such group is capitalizing on its expertise in an unexpected way: by providing cannabis-themed tours through some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. For years now, these tours have been operating in secret — but as legalization gains traction, they’re coming out of the closet and onto your social media feed.

Speaking of social media, legacy dealers have been flooding timelines with beautifully drawn cannabis baggies and artfully curated Instagram feeds. And for good reason. It’s a way to advertise their products without going through official channels.

In the end, what is or isn’t legal when it comes to marijuana may change from one day to the next. So it’s in your best interest to make sure that you keep up with the latest developments, and do everything in your power to be informed and prepared. Chasing smoke may be a thing of the past, but the love of cannabis is a reality that shouldn’t be ignored.

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