NY Considers Cannabis-Infused Food Sales at Pizzerias and Other Eateries

Red neon pizza sign above a man making pizzas at a shop
Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

New York City has been famous for its brand of thin, crispy, deliciously-greasy pizza for the past century, and this year, the city’s mass of pizzerias might be working a new ingredient into their menus: cannabis.

The past year has been monumental for cannabis in New York, as the state can finally enjoy full adult-use legalization after decades of lobbying for change. 


Since the plant was legalized in 2021, state officials have been busy working out the framework for how New York will approach legal cannabis sales. 

Most recently, the Office of Cannabis Management began weighing in on whether the state’s pizzerias and other eateries should be allowed to sell fresh cannabis-infused food and/or packaged edibles at their establishments. A move that’s almost guaranteed to take New York City’s grub scene and new business opportunities to new levels.

Will New York Allow Legal Cannabis into Eateries?

As it stands, cannabis in eateries isn’t explicitly prohibited in New York’s regulations.

The biggest issue posed would be the fact that while people under the age of 21 regularly enjoy New York City pizza pies, they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to legally consume infused versions of their order. In fact, they likely wouldn’t be allowed in the establishment at all — especially if the entire menu is infused.

This would likely require a particularly strong level of regulation, bringing back many of the issues that accompanied cannabis prohibition in the first place: over-policing of the plant and under-policing of serious crimes.

However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this would be an exciting shift in how cannabis is perceived, sold, and enjoyed, which is almost guaranteed to have a heavy influence on the rest of the nation’s regulatory efforts.

Although legal adult-use cannabis is still a novel concept in New York, the city has enjoyed a thriving plant culture for several decades. The industry’s eyes are on the Empire State as it establishes its distinct and defining approach to cannabis.

That being said, will cannabis-infused pizzerias and eateries be the city’s first major step in that direction?

It sounds great on paper, but it will entirely depend on the actual regulations that accompany the change — and right now, they aren’t looking great.

While eateries may be permitted to apply for cannabis licenses and begin working the plant into their recipes, any owner who obtains a license would currently be barred from having a liquor license as well, and vice versa.

This could inevitably weed out most if not all of the potential restaurant-owning applicants who have consistently relied on steady alcohol sales to remain profitable in a difficult and competitive industry. Determining whether cannabis can replace those alcohol sales would be a risky move for many established eateries.  

“We’ve been advocating for on-license cannabis sales for restaurants and nightlife establishments. New York is the culinary capital of the world,” NYC Hospitality Alliance attorney Max Bookman said in an interview. “But denying establishments from having both a liquor and cannabis license killed our buzz. We’re waiting to see the regulations.”

Of course, the plant’s continued federally-illegal status would pose a number of issues as well — especially if a customer has a bad experience with the cannabis-infused products and threatens to sue. 

Many experts are doubtful that the regulations could get to a place that makes sense for the state government, the eateries, and the consumers, but this would undeniably have a dramatic effect on the industry and how it could operate for years to come. 

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