By Tess Owen for Vice. Manhattan’s first and only medical marijuana dispensary is like a fortress. To enter the building, located on 14th Street near the 3rd Avenue subway station, patients have to pass through two security systems before they even encounter another human. First, they flash their medical marijuana card in front of a camera. If everything looks in order, the first set of doors opens to a vestibule and then closes behind them. There, they hold their cards under an electronic scanner. If there’s a problem, guards — many of them ex-cops — will escort them from the premises.
Once inside, the Columbia Care dispensary looks clean, sterile, and modern, like any upscale waiting room. But those familiar with legal pot shops in Washington, Colorado, and other states will notice that one thing is conspicuously absent: There are no pot brownies, and no jars of green buds labeled with names like Green Crack and White Widow. In fact, there’s no smokeable or edible marijuana of any kind for sale.