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Why is a Michigan man blocking New York dispensaries?

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Two businesses, owned by the same man, are suing the state of New York and the City of Sacramento. Both lawsuits challenge dispensary licensing programs that prohibit out-of-state residents.


Last week, a federal judge placed a temporary hold on 63 of New York’s 150 incoming dispensary licenses for adult-use cannabis. The state planned to give businesses controlled by people with New York cannabis convictions the first batch of adult-use dispensary licenses later this month.

But a company owned by a Michigan man has blocked nearly half of those licenses from being issued with a lawsuit that argues such programs discriminate against out-of-state residents and block interstate commerce.

Both of the plaintiff’s accusations, if proven true, would violate the constitution. So a federal judge granted a temporary injunction blocking New York’s ability to issue licenses in five regions, including Brooklyn and Central New York.

Why are 63 New York dispensary licenses delayed?

A corporation called Variscite NY One, Inc. filed for a preliminary injunction to restrain the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) from issuing Conditional Adult-use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) licenses in certain areas of the state.

Grinded weed shaped as New York and a joint.(series)
Dozens of New York dispensaries are stuck in licensing limbo. (Adobe Stock)

Variscite is claiming the OCM’s dispensary license application program discriminates against out-of-state operators and blocks interstate commerce, a direct violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, which keeps states from favoring their own economies over a healthy national marketplace.

Who owns Variscite?

A Michigan resident named Kenneth Gay is the majority owner of Variscite New York One, Inc., which has been registered with the state of New York since August. Jeffrey Jensen owns the other 49%, according to court records.

Kenneth Gay and his lawyer, Christian Kernkamp, filed a similar lawsuit against The City of Sacramento and its cannabis office in February 2022, this time using a business entity called Peridot Tree.

Neither Variscite, nor Peridot Tree, appear to be licensed, prominent, or active cannabis operations in Michigan or California. The plaintiff refused to comment on the case when contacted by Leafly.

Cookies is not connected to this lawsuit

On Thursday (November 17), a LinkedIn post by cannabis lawyer David B. Feder riled rumors that Cookies is behind this lawsuit. Some cannabis news outlets even published the rumors.

Feder uncovered documents that tie Variscite’s co-owner, Jeffrey Jensen, to a 2018 Cookies dispensary application that failed to get approved in Pasadena. After hinting that Cookies may be driving the Variscite lawsuit, Feder directed the “Internet sleuths” on his page to investigate further.

On Friday (November 18), Feder retracted his statement and publicly apologized for implicating Cookies in the case. Feder said: “Sometimes you have to admit when you’re wrong… After speaking to the people at Cookies and getting clarification, and speaking to other people as well, I gotta let everybody know: There is no connection between Cookies and this lawsuit.”

Cookies CEO Berner thanked Feder for clearing things up, writing on Instagram, “Thank you. My apologies as well, sometimes stuff like this gets under my skin and I truly appreciate you posting the truth. The more we grow the bigger the target we are. I do really appreciate you clearing this up.”

“As it turns out,” Feder continued in his apology video, “Cookies, never ended up doing business with this guy.” Feder added that it’s “probably better off that they didn’t, because look who this guy is. He doesn’t care about New York’s social equity applicants and is freezing the whole program for everybody and shutting down several regions from being issued CAURD licenses and maybe who knows how far it’s gonna go.”

Feder added, “the bottom line is, I was wrong for presenting this information without the proper framing. And I appreciate the people of Cookies coming to me directly to clarify. This thing went way further than I had ever anticipated.”

“I think a lot of people who are haters of Cookies, or maybe Burner, were looking for something to hang their hat on (to) show that he’s really not for the people.”

David B. Feder ESQ

When did the Variscite vs The State of New York case begin?

The Variscite case was filed September 26, 2022, the exact day that the August 25-to-September 26 application window for CAURD applications closed. One month earlier (August 31), Variscite first registered with the state. The business was created less than a week after the CAURD application portal went live on August 25. 

When asked about the timeline and intentions of the lawsuit, Variscite’s lawyer, Christian Kernkamp, told Leafly via email November 15, “Plaintiff is not making a statement at this time but we will be sure to include you if Plaintiff makes a statement in the future.”

Why did the court grant Variscite’s request to block New York licenses?

Last week (November 10), U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe granted a temporary restraining order to Variscite. The judge cited cases in Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Michigan where similar laws were successfully challenged on constitutional grounds, including the Dormant Commerce Clause. The court ultimately ruled that the state’s application requirements “will have a discriminatory effect on out-of-state residents seeking a CAURD license.”

On October 5, the court rejected a first request for the temporary injunction, which would have stopped some licenses then. The new ruling made Thursday (November 10) states that the New York Attorney General, arguing on behalf of the OCM and state, failed to provide a legitimate purpose for favoring New Yorkers impacted by the War on Drugs over non-residents.

Similar cases in Michigan and Maine also play on the tension legalization creates between states’ interests in protecting local businesses and the Dormant Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The clause forbids states from interfering with interstate commerce in ways that favor their own economies over those of other states.

Almost every state with a social equity program that favors residents is subject to similar litigation, but it will ultimately be up to Congress to ensure federal legalization strikes a balance.

Why is Variscite suing The State of New York?

client customer signing contract and discussing business with legal consultants, notary or justice lawyer with laptop computer and wooden judge gavel on desk in courtroom office, legal service concept
(Adobe Stock)

It’s hard to say. The company claims that social equity programs infringe on owner Kenneth Gay’s constitutional rights. But there is a lot of subtext to consider.

Gay also owns Peridot Tree, a California company that is currently suing the City of Sacramento on similar terms. Gay could truly feel discriminated against by programs that favor state residents over non-residents. But many are questioning the plaintiff’s true motives.

What does Variscite stand to gain from delaying licenses?

It’s not clear. But speculation has been rampant. It’s been suggested that a special CAURD license could be in the cards for the plaintiff—not as a reward, but as a “shut up and go away” settlement. Other, more sinister, motives have also been floated, without evidence or corroboration.

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No matter what the plaintiff’s motive is, federal law gives some credence to their claim. Still, the federal judge in the Peridot vs. Sacramento case in California chose to abstain from the matter on Thursday (November 17), citing the federal illegality of cannabis. Gay will now bring that case to the Ninth Circuit federal court for further judgement.

Ultimately, ending federal cannabis prohibition is the only way to stop lawsuits like this from becoming a national trend. Otherwise, the Dormant Commerce Clause, as applied here, could be used to derail social equity programs in almost every legal state.

The Variscite/Peridot plaintiff’s true motives are hard to pin down, for many reasons. There’s a lot of collateral damage to consider. The other cannabis businesses, wasted resources on application and legal fees, and potential blowback from impacted businesses all make this case high-risk and low-reward from the outside looking in.

What’s next in the Variscite vs. New York case?

A lawyer representing multiple applicants advised that the impacted licenses in Brooklyn, Finger Lakers, and other regions could be on hold for three to four months.

Despite the lawsuit, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management said it plans to move forward with its CAURD licensing program, characterizing the Variscite lawsuit as a minor setback.

The OCM plans to award the first class of CAURD licensees on Monday, November 21, at a board meeting that is open to the public.

An official OCM statement about the case to Leafly November 10 reads: 

“We don’t comment on pending litigation. The Office of Cannabis Management is committed to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act’s goals of including those impacted by the state’s enforcement of cannabis prohibition in the market that we are building and we are additionally committed to getting New York’s cannabis supply chain fully operational.”

Freeman Klopott, director of communications at OCM



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December 2022 Leafly HighLight: Sour Diesel strain

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It’s 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve night and you’re not going to make it to see the ball drop, or get a kiss.

Sure, you can do a shot and pay for it the next day. But you have a galaxy-level brain that thought ahead and brought a bag of the classic weed strain, Sour Diesel. One joint of Sour D and you’re dancing and playing the air flute, like Lizzo herself. Congrats, you just got rocked by the powerful, stanky Sour Diesel our Leafly HighLight for December.

Perfect for New York’s impending legalization launch, Sour Diesel has a 4.3 score out of 5 after 8,264 reviews and was one of the first ever to be reviewed on the site in 2010. Sour D gets its name for smelling like pungent, diesel gasoline, and skunk. Who’d want to smell that? Adventurous folks rewarded by its energetic, talkative, and creative effects—that’s who.

“Work of art crafted by God,” reads one SD’s top reviews.

Pictured—Uncle Jesse’s East Coast Sour Diesel. (Leafly)

A Sour Diesel bag keeps the party going—even if it’s a party of one for weekend chores. “It’s a great strain to talk to friends, and laugh,” one reviewer writes.

“Sour D had me bouncing off the walls. I deep-cleaned my entire house,” said another.

Lots of folks also report cerebral effects. “I am so high I could pass a pregnancy test right now. Like I’m thinking at such a high level that it’s basically like having two people inside me!”

Sour D is about more than fun and games, too. Medical patients report profound, life-saving relief with the D over the decades.

“Very comfortable. Saved my life from long-term pain relief.”

Leafly reviewer

“The pain after surgery, with swelling, soreness, depression, mental effects, and anxiety all were somewhat extinguished. Very comfortable. Saved my life from long-term pain relief.”

“This is where it is at!!! Severe PTSD over here and this is the cure for when you are down.”

That said, go slow with this 19% THC strain: Negatives can include anxiousness, cottonmouth, and dry eyes.

How much does Sour Diesel cost?

Princes and paupers alike puff tough on Sour D. Sour Diesel is a great barometer of local weed prices in your area. It’s so prevalent that prices are low, but it’s so good that it always commands a premium. You see Sour D in a lot of different modalities—especially pre-rolls, ounce bags, carts, pods, and dabs.

Low-grade Mid-grade High-grade
1g pre-roll $4 $14 $20
Eighth-ounce (3.5 grams) $25 $40 $55
1g vape cart $35 $50 $67

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Sour Diesel seeds

Wanna grow Sour Diesel? Badass idea. It crushes both inside a tent and outside in a field. Here’s the bad news: A classic strain this old and popular attracts all kinds of fakers and frauds. Your best bet? Go with a reputable brand name, like DNA GeneticsHumboldt Seed Co, or Humboldt Seed Org. According to DNA, Sour Diesel is a cross of ‘91 Chemdawg x Massachusetts Super Skunk and Northern Lights. That’s like Freebird on FM radio—totally classic. We’re back in the ’90s, sneaking around and buying weed by the gram.

Humboldt Seed Co has an automatic version of Sour D that’s auto-magic. There’s also like 10 generations of Sour Diesel crosses to explore. Massive Seeds has Yuki Sour. Mass Medical has Sour Pupil seeds for Christmas. And don’t forget that No. 1 strain Original Glue (formerly GG#4, ie Gorilla Glue) is a Sour Diesel project. Go apeshit on that gassy glue cross, bro.

Sour Diesel awards

Uncle Jesse's East Coast Sour Diesel. (David Downs/Leafly)
Uncle Jesse-grown East Coast Sour Diesel. (David Downs/Leafly)

Sour Diesel came out and crushed the competition like a traffic cone. It’s won as a sativa flower or seed for years, but nowadays you see its crosses also win in hash, and even CBD hemp. In the 2022 Colorado Connoisseur Cup, a Glacier Concentrates Lilac Diesel placed 3rd in the category recreation wax and butter. A frickin’ Diesel drink won a 2019 award in the Oregon Dope Cup.

Sour Diesel terpenes

Wondering what that skunky gas is that keeps stinking up dad’s garage? That’s the aroma of excellence, son. According to lab samples uploaded to Leafly, Sour Diesel has hecka beta-caryophyllene, as well as myrcene and limonene. It’s not a far stretch to be like, yeah that makes sense— those terps equal peppery/gassy, dank/rich/earthy, and lemony/sour.

You can actually search Leafly by these three terpenes and see what other strains are gonna match it. Go for Original Glue, or Chemdawg—it’s uncanny how this strain family’s terps match up. See also: Apple FritterOG KushBanner; and SFV OG.

Other highlights this December

Can’t buy our HighLight? Dry your tears with three related, seasonal picks that give energy, honor the East Coast weed scene, or just kick ass.

Strawberry Cough

Strawberry Cough. (DavidDowns/Leafly)
Strawberry Cough. (David Downs/Leafly)

Keep celebrating more of that good and classic East Coast energy with Strawberry Cough, a staple sativa that came from Vermont. It’s even more chatty that Sour D, and that strawberry smell makes a great salad with Sour D. It’s grown all over and vape-makers love it because the recipe is pretty dialed in and people love it. Shout-out to cultivation expert and personality Kyle Kushman for this one.

Gumbo

Madison Square Gumbo. (Courtesy Cookies)
Madison Square Gumbo. (Courtesy Cookies)

Proudly represent New York with this new all-star from the Cookies brand—Madison Square Gumbo. It hit all Cookies and Lemonnade shops in Cali Monday, November 14, and is a cross of Cookies & Cream x Secret Weapon. Gumbo brands founders Karim “Luka Brazi” Butler and Alexis Major help carry the banner for New York cannabis culture into the legal era. Our bag of Gumbo smelled super bomb and on-trend—wild, cakey, and cookie-like. Let’s just say it put our butts to sleep. When it’s time to sack out after the celebration, or nurse that Sunday hangover—pack a fresh bowl of Gumbo.

Cereal Milk

Cereal a la Mode photo by David Downs Leafly
Cereal Milk cross Cereal A La Mode from Fiore with Powerzzup makes a splash. (David Downs/Leafly)

OK, you had your classic Sour D, you made a salad with Strawberry C, and you repped NYC with Gumbo. Now it’s time to plot a course for the future of weed in 2023, Cereal Milk—SF breeder Powerzzzup’s Y Life (Cookies x Cherry Pie) to Snowman. The key here is The Y—an influential strain borne out of the Cookies movement. Lucky for you, the Y is set to launch a new generation of stars. Deo Farms is breeding with The Y. Powerzzup is working it, too. Meanwhile, Cereal Milk is the on-ramp—widely available in 1,865 North American stores on Leafly, a number that’s doubled since last year. The Y also has a unique thickness to its cookie smell, an aromatic body and goodness in its baked dessert flavor that’s going to become table stakes in modern weed.

OK, we’re going to reward ourselves with some Sour D for reporting and writing this. See you next year for more greatness from Leafly HighLight.


Hey, what’s ‘Leafly HighLight’?

Leafly HighLight helps US weed shoppers discover all-star strains on dispensary shelves. Each month, Leafly News’ experts spotlight a trending, top 200 national cannabis strain you should know.

We combine:

—Leafly Strain Database search data,

—dispensary menu data,

—dispensary visits,

—and smoke sessions

to select one cultivar that pairs with the season or mood. Leafly HighLight.

Read past Leafly HighLights of 2022.

Like Leafly HighLight? Fave this post, leave a nice comment and order some trees on Leafly.

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David Downs

Leafly Senior Editor David Downs received a Literary Excellence Award from Oaksterdam University in 2022. On the cannabis beat since 2009, he’s published three books, including the best-selling cannabis crop science book ‘Marijuana Harvest.’ Downs guest lectured at the Loyola Marymount University Law School’s Journalism Law School, UC Berkeley Extension, and contributed to Continuing Education of the Bar’s Marijuana Law Hub, sponsored by University of California and the State Bar of California. Downs’ work has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Scientific American, Wired, Rolling Stone, The Onion, Columbia Journalism Review, High Times, Billboard, and many more. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from UC Santa Barbara, and was a Fellow at the Medill School of Journalism’s Academy of Alternative Journalism in Chicago.

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‘Is this your eighth?’: Reflections from NYC’s Smokus Pocus magic show

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Nowadays, if you live in a legal state, you can find all kinds of activities in which cannabis is involved, even centric to the experience. Like yoga? You can cannabis-ify it. Like painting, standup comedy, book club? That too. 

As America’s epicenter of entertainment, New York City, which is on the precipice of rolling out its legal recreational cannabis market in the coming weeks (or months), is a seemingly intuitive spot for artists and performers to weave weed into their shows. So, when I got an invitation to a cannabis-themed magic show, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. 


Mere minutes before the magician Ben Zabin’s touring show, Smokus Pocus, was set to start in Brooklyn, guests were passing joints and blunts on the corner outside. The sound of someone playing “Pass the Dutchie” from their phone floated through the air as clouds of pungent smoke lingered between conversations.

New York City allows public cannabis consumption just about anywhere tobacco smoking is allowed, and my fellow patrons and I were taking full advantage. How else to prepare for a marijuana magic show on a Saturday night?

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Once inside, the stage seemed appropriately set. There was a bong on stage, crates decked out with 4/20 slang, and colorful lighting. Then Ben Zabin took the stage. For 70 minutes, the audience was at his mercy.

A magician is nothing without his assistant. (Courtesy Ben Zabin)

The NYC production of Smokus Pocus had all the tenets you’d expect of a marijuana magic show, and thankfully, it’s slated to hit the stage again in Baltimore, MD, and Philadelphia, PA, on December 9 and 10, respectively, in addition to future tour dates across the US. I mean, a bong lit itself, an audience member guessed a strain that appeared on a jar of weed Ben hadn’t touched, and his assistant’s name is Mary Jane. Bags of weed appeared and disappeared: What more could one ask for?

As it turns out, there’s so much more: Mary Jane was an erotic blow-up doll, and someone’s phone ended up in a box of mac and cheese.. I would go on, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say that my expectations went up in smoke when 50 or so people in the audience, including myself, found ourselves laughing, crying, and gasping.

Though I can’t speak for the other attendees, I can say with conviction that the laughter did not just result from smoking a fat bowl beforehand. 

It’s 2022, and in theory, when you’re in New York City, anything goes. Then how is it that no one else has thought to put these two together? I caught up with Zabin after the show to learn just how he’s made it work. While he wouldn’t reveal his secrets, he was adamant that a penchant for magic and a passion for pot make for great inspiration.

Seedlings of stardom

Zabin grew up in the tri-state area and did his first magic trick at the age of six after receiving a kit for the holidays. It was love at first sleight of hand. A decade later, he fell in love again, with cannabis. Within a couple of years, he’d left college to do magic full-time.

But not everyone can be Cris Angel, so he started selling weed on the side. He eventually started doing regular gigs on cruise ships and even toured with the US Navy (he says stoners are a much easier crowd).

“I was really shy growing up, and I was terrible at sports. Magic was one thing that I was good at. It was a passion—my whole life,” he tells Leafly. “I started doing birthday parties and then moved on to adult private events and the competition circuit. It kind of just grew [into a] career.”

Within a couple of years, he’d left college to do magic full-time. But not everyone can be Cris Angel, so he started selling weed on the side. He eventually started doing regular gigs on cruise ships and even toured with the US Navy (he says stoners are a much easier crowd).

It was during the pandemic that, with nowhere to perform, Zabin moved to Portland, Oregon, and started working on a weed-centric magic show, something that has been on the back burner. He launched it in May of 2021 and began performing weekly.

As pandemic restrictions lifted, he started touring in medical and recreational states, including Oklahoma, Montana, Alaska, and, soon, even Canada.  

“People have no idea what to expect! I really love that it appeals to so many different demographics,” he says, not unlike a 21st-century Woodstock.

A grass act

Ben Zabin weed jar magic trick
(Courtesy Ben Zabin)

There were classic tricks, like “Is this your card?” and plenty of audience engagement. I myself got corralled into a bit involving picking a gift card from a stack, which would magically appear in the drawing Zabin made onstage in real-time. (It was H&M) 

But beyond all the personal touches, Zabin has clearly been in the game long enough to anticipate and subvert magic show clichés. On numerous occasions, the item in question appears to be the wrong one. But as we quickly learned, this turns into another layer of the trick with Zabin emerging victorious.   

With performances in Brooklyn every weekend over the course of October, Zabin’s goal is to give Smokus Pocus a permanent home in the Empire state. New York’s imminent adult-use market means he could pull all kinds of possibilities from a pocket, ear, or mystery bag. In the meantime, be sure to check out the list of dates and cities he’s got lined up for December.   

“It’s an exciting forefront of this emerging industry—an intersection between entertainment, cannabis, community, and culture. Everyone comes together at a magic show!” 

Ben Zabin

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Amelia Williams

New York-based freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism program, and a former budtender. Williams has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Now, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bold Italic.

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The best NYC museums to visit after tripping or toking

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You’ll never see art and science the same again.


If you’ve walked down any busy block in the five boroughs lately, you’ll smell weed in the air, and probably catch someone who’s either lighting up or poised to offer you a gram or two. While weed is legal in New York, government-regulated sales are not slated to start until the end of the year.  Still, no one is stopping the ganjapreneurs from cashing in and serving the public. The bodegas, weed trucks, and not-really-legal storefronts are multiplying, and the city has tentatively sanctioned cannabis consumption in outdoor spaces.

Amid the city’s post-Thanksgiving holiday cheer, locals and tourists alike often feel the itch to visit the city’s roughly 100 museums, which cover everything from indigenous history, to Lower East Side tenements, to ice cream. 

With legal cannabis sales just a few weeks away in New York, I wanted to find the best centers of history and learning that pair well with dome dispensary edibles, craft cannabis, and maybe some special mushrooms you picked up from a local provider. I can say with certainty, these were my favorite museums to visit after tripping and toking.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of my favorite things about weed and psychedelics is that they make the borders of our reality more permeable. Time no longer passes as it usually does, gravity shifts, and history becomes an experience that we can inhabit. 

The Met always presents guests with a prism of a different time and a world seen through different eyes. This is an ideal pairing with cannabis edibles, a thought-provoking sativa, or some psilocybin. I’d argue all the current exhibits suit a little bit of shrooms, but the zaniest ones available now are Chroma: Ancient Sculptures in Color, where ancient Greek marble statues get the color treatment, and Kimono Style, which traces the evolution of the kimono garment.  

The Met also hosts the Cloisters, an homage to medieval artwork and architecture that feels like a palace you’d encounter in the Game of Thrones universe. There are gardens, castle towers, and halls built for the booming voices of choirs and kings. If you’re feeling trippy, might I recommend you stay outside with the greenery, lest you begin to worry the High Sparrow is after you.

Museum of the Moving Image  

Now this museum is NOT for beginners. I repeat, if you are not prepared for a bombardment of moving images, colors, characters, and existential crises, just go without any sort of intoxicating substance. Because wow, I was not ready. 
But, I loved it! The MoMI is a multistory, intentionally-unassuming building in Queens dedicated to all things cinema craft. The heart of the museum is easily the Jim Henson exhibit, which traverses the prolific puppeteer, animator, producer, and inventor’s decades of work on Sesame Street, Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, and more.

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There is literally a quaint movie theater within the exhibit. I wasn’t so much in touch with my inner child as having her sit on my shoulders and run me through the whole thing. There are also temporary exhibits about Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad, and most recently, a Walking Dead deep dive, which admittedly scares me.

Brooklyn Museum

There is always something good happening at the Brooklyn Museum. Their ongoing collection hosts art from societies across the continents, from Egypt to Polynesia to the First Nations. Further up, there are temporary exhibits that are just as fascinating as they are devastating: an interactive COVID memorial and a sprawling ruminating on how our everyday trash is, like, ruining the planet. Some pieces look like kaleidoscopes of tampon applicators, single-use flossers, and abandoned lighters, so something that incites visuals is the move.     
But the need-to-see show right now is definitely Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech,” a walk-through of the late Louis Vuitton creative director and designer’s forays into fashion, design, and architecture. There are well over 100 items, from his clothing collection inspired by the migrant crisis, a spectrum of his Off White shoe designs, and an entire wooden cabin meant to foster the creativity of Black artists while protecting them from the rigidity of white supremacy ideals.

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I’ve not been in a financial position to own a piece of Virgil’s legacy, but the vision in his work is only undercut by how much it seemed like he had to show us. The new Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibit just opened as well to further your passion for fashion.

Museum of Natural History

Definitely start in the elephant room. It’s technically the hall for African mammals, but the elephants are the stars. I myself popped one of the new Kiva Grape Pie Cookies gummies, a partnership with Brooklyn rapper Saint Jhn, and felt overwhelming awe at just how many other species have evolved across the globe alongside us, or far from our urban experiences. Where else would you ever see the skeletons of Chihuahua-sized lemurs or enormous salamanders? The Museum of Natural History, naturally. 

I went specifically for the new Sharks exhibit, which I heard multiple young children describe as “scary.” It’s a darkly lit room full of shark trivia, interactive games, and shark recreations (no great white tanks, sorry!) that you can detour to, then get back to the animal kingdom. I would not do any psychedelics if you plan to check out the halls of American Indian history, which feature somewhat uncanny recreations of people and their cultures who are still very much alive. But you do you.               

The Tenement Museum

Admittedly, the SNL sketches are a lot funnier than learning about thousands of European immigrants living in poverty; I would recommend this if you want to feel sad when you’re high and enjoy an emotional purge. The Lower East Side often feels like a millennial playground or a collection of furtive alleys, but one guided tour of the Tenement museum will make you feel very happy about the cramped apartment I’m betting you have lived in, at some point. 

As a descendant of immigrants from multiple European countries, but none of them went through Ellis Island or lived in New York. I used to feel somewhat jealous of all the thousands of people who got to reshape their lives in the Big Apple, until I walked through the squalor they had to deal with on a daily basis. This is definitely an indica, introspective kind of day, for feeling sympathy and gratitude that we have developed as a city and country beyond these circumstances.       

The Guggenheim

Museums often feel stuffy, and their architecture can feel monotonous. The Guggenheim, which reminds me of something straight out of Westworld’s latest season, sets you up in a spiraling circle, allowing you to get into a flowstate as you survey the best of an 8,000 piece collection.

The people watching alone can eat up an entire afternoon, but if you’ve got a nice microdose buzz going, I highly recommend the Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene and Sensory Poetics: Collecting Abstraction exhibitions. Both toy with artistic medium as much as some mushroom chocolate toys with your perception. Both exhibits center on contemporary art that rejects our cultural reverence for minimalism and clearly understood messaging. Colors, shapes, and senses abound!

The New Museum

Sometimes you need some nastiness in life to remember how good it can be. But sometimes the grotesque has its own beauty and allure.   Doreen Lynette Garner’s new show at the New Museum, Revolted, makes you queasy in the best way and leads to deep interrogation.

Her sculptures seem like they’re meant to be in Dexter’s clean-up room or a negligent slaughterhouse. Everything is made from mostly synthetic materials, but the sculptures evoke the ick of live, fleshy bodies all the same. It might be best not to see this exhibit if you have a sensitive stomach or like to dose or smoke heavily     

SPYSCAPE

Ever wonder what kind of spy you’d be? That’s half the fun of SPYSCAPE, a Midtown Manhattan building that takes you through a series of mental and physical games that help determine your best spy skills while helping you learn about international surveillance and the history of espionage. 

There’s also a Batmobile or two. My friends and I made sure to chief beforehand, and while it made the math portions harder, it definitely made everything feel more 007. All important spy skills will be put to the test here—cracking ciphers, lie detection, surveillance monitoring, and sneaking through a room full of lasers, to name a few. There are, unfortunately, geometry questions too. Each phase takes you through different parts of the museum, so it doesn’t get stale.    

At the end, you receive an analysis detailing your role in a hypothetical intelligence agency. I myself got “analyst,” which seemingly means I’m great at seeing patterns and reviewing data, but maybe I don’t take as many risks as I should.  


All these visits were done under ideal tripping and toking circumstances; I had control of my dose and experience without adverse effects that can arise—cannabis and psychedelics aren’t exact science, after all. If you want to take your next museum visit to the next level, always start low and go slow. You just might see something you’ve never seen before.

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Amelia Williams

New York-based freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism program, and a former budtender. Williams has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Now, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bold Italic.

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