Cannabis cultivation is legal in Bronx County pursuant to the recently enacted Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Under the MRTA, Bronx County residents aged 21 or older can legally cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants (3 immature cannabis plants and 3 mature cannabis plants). If more than one adult, over the age of 21, lives in a Bronx County residence, the MRTA mandates that no more than 12 cannabis plants (6 immature cannabis plants and 6 mature cannabis plants) may be cultivated in such a household. Licensed cannabis businesses in Bronx County may cultivate recreational and medicinal cannabis for commercial purposes, provided they have obtained the applicable licenses.
Pursuant to the MRTA statutes, the home cultivation of cannabis by Bronx County residents of legal age may only be conducted within private residences. The home cultivation of cannabis must be done in safe and secure areas not accessible to minors.
Under the MRTA, municipalities within Bronx County may enact and enforce regulations, as approved by the government of such municipalities, to reasonably regulate the home cultivation of cannabis. However, no municipality may enact or enforce regulations that may completely prohibit the home cultivation of cannabis.
Note that Bronx County residents are not permitted to begin cannabis cultivation pursuant to the MRTA until the Office of Cannabis Management adopts guidelines for cannabis cultivation at home. The regulations are expected to be published no later than 18 months following the first retail sale of adult-use cannabis.
According to the MRTA, cannabis manufacturing by licensed entities is legal in Bronx County. Per the MRTA, cannabis products must be processed in accordance with standard manufacturing practices as outlined under Part 111 or Part 117 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. No cannabis products may be designed to appeal to persons under 21. Cannabis processors may also not use or integrate alcoholic beverages or nicotine in cannabis products.
Medical cannabis establishments may also manufacture cannabis in Bronx County. Registered organizations manufacturing medical cannabis must conduct manufacturing activities in a secure facility located in Bronx County. The facility may be a greenhouse, and manufacturing must be conducted in the manner stipulated in the rules for cannabis manufacturing to be promulgated by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).
The New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act permits retail cannabis sales in Bronx County. However, pursuant to the MRTA, no cannabis retail storefront may be located within 500 feet of a school ground or 200 feet of a house of worship. Under the MRTA, no licensed cannabis retailer may employ, or permit to be employed on the retail premises, any person under the age of 18. Employees of retail cannabis establishments aged between 18 and 21 are not allowed to have direct interaction with customers inside retail stores.
No cannabis retail business in Bronx County may sell cannabis products to anyone if they know or suspect the buyer intends to resell or give away the products. In addition, cannabis retail businesses are not authorized to offer alcoholic drinks. Cannabis marketing information and commercials are subject to further limitations. Such materials are not permitted within 500 feet of playgrounds, childcare providers, school grounds, public parks, and libraries, as well as in public transport vehicles or stations and on publicly owned lands or billboards.
In Bronx County, cannabis delivery is legal. The MRTA defines cannabis delivery as the direct delivery of a cannabis product by a cannabis retail licensee, microbusiness licensee, or delivery licensee to a cannabis consumer. Note that cannabis delivery businesses delivering medicinal cannabis to certified patients or qualified caregivers are not permitted to deliver more than 60-day supplies to the purchasers unless the patients have all but finished their 7-day supplies issued under a previously issued medical cannabis certification.
The MRTA mandates that the age of the cannabis consumer placing an order must be verified. The order must be delivered to the appropriate person, who must be confirmed not to be intoxicated. Licensed cannabis retail delivery establishments may not deliver cannabis products to any individual whom the establishment has reasonable cause to believe intends to sell or give the products away in contravention of any published CCB regulations or MRTA statutes.
New York medical marijuana (MMJ) cards are issued by the state Department of Health. To obtain and consume medical marijuana in Bronx County, a medical marijuana (MMJ) card is required. In order to be eligible to obtain an MMJ card, an applicant must live in Bronx County or somewhere else in New York State, be 18 years old or older, and have received medicinal cannabis certification from a medical practitioner licensed under the medical cannabis program. The state’s medical marijuana program also makes provisions for residents under the age of 18 looking to obtain MMJ cards. Such persons may be able to access medical cannabis by formally designating caregivers who can purchase or produce cannabis on their behalf.
To prove residency in New York State, the registrant must provide one of the following:
The first step in getting an MMJ card in New York County is to schedule an appointment with a registered medical practitioner in order to obtain medical marijuana certification. This certification attests that medicinal marijuana is clinically appropriate for the applicant. Applicants may consult the approved list of medical practitioners participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to find qualified medical practitioners certified to issue medical cannabis attestations. These medical practitioners will diagnose applicants to verify if they suffer from any of the approved debilitating conditions.
After the medical practitioner has determined that an applicant qualifies to use medicinal marijuana, they will then complete the certification and issue the applicant a copy of the documentation. To commence the concluding part of the application, the applicant must visit the New York State identification portal and create an account.
Upon the approval of an applicant's application, the NYSDOH will issue a temporary registration identity card (MMJ card) via the applicant's my.NY.gov account, which may be used with a government-issued picture ID to purchase medical marijuana products. The digital medicinal marijuana card is only valid for 30 days. Within 3 - 10 business days, the permanent, physical copy of the medical marijuana card will arrive in the mail.
While recreational cannabis has been legalized in Bronx County and New York State, retail sales have yet to begin. Bronx County also imposes no tax on medical cannabis sales within its jurisdiction. As a result, the impact of the cannabis industry has yet to reflect on the county's economy. However, per the MRTA, the legalization of recreational cannabis has the potential to bring in much revenue for Bronx County and other jurisdictions in the state. According to the marijuana legalization impact assessment report published by the New York Office of the Governor, the cannabis industry is projected to generate potential tax revenue of more than $350 million annually and up to 60,000 jobs.
The report estimated the illegal purchases of marijuana in New York State at between 6.5 and 10.2 million ounces annually. Based on the projections in the report, the potential tax revenue in the first year of recreational cannabis legalization ranges from $248.1 million (with a 7% tax rate) to $340.6 million (with a 15% tax rate). In a more promising projection included in the report, tax revenue estimates were put between $493.7 million (with a 7% tax rate) and $677.7 million (with a 15% tax rate). Overall, the cannabis industry is predicted to have a multiplier effect on the New York economy, producing up to $4.1 billion in annual economic activity for the state.
According to the New York State marijuana legalization effect assessment study, violent crime and property crime rates in the areas where medical marijuana businesses are located have not increased since medical marijuana was legalized in the state. This study suggests that once retail cannabis sales begin in New York, crime rates in New York are unlikely to be negatively impacted.
Since the legalization of medicinal marijuana in 2014, marijuana-related crime rates in New York have decreased, according to the FBI's UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting Program). In 2013, 2014, and 2015, there were 30,624, 29,334, and 30,102 DUI arrests, respectively. In 2019 and 2020, the state registered 25,364 and 17,422 DUI arrests, respectively. Arrests for marijuana sales have likewise declined in New York, with numbers falling from 733 and 633 in 2013 and 2014 to 329 and 130 in 2019 and 2020.