The New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) makes cannabis cultivation legal in Erie County. Residents of Erie County who are 21 or older are allowed to cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants under the MRTA (3 immature cannabis plants and 3 mature cannabis plants). If more than one adult older than 21 resides in an Erie County home, the MRTA limits the total number of cannabis plants that may be grown to 12 (6 immature cannabis plants and 6 mature cannabis plants). Licensed cannabis establishments in Erie County are permitted to cultivate recreational and medical cannabis for commercial purposes, as long as they hold the necessary licenses.
According to MRTA laws, the home growing of cannabis by Erie County residents of legal age is only permitted inside private residences. Cannabis cultivation at home must be conducted in a secure location that is not accessible to anyone under the age of 21.
Under the MRTA, municipalities within Erie County may implement and enforce legislation to impose certain limitations on the home cultivation of cannabis. No municipality, however, is authorized to promulgate or enforce ordinances that entirely bans cannabis cultivation at home. Note that Erie County residents are not allowed to begin cannabis cultivation under the MRTA until the Office of Cannabis Management publishes the regulations for the home cultivation of cannabis. The rules are scheduled to be published no later than 18 months after the first adult-use cannabis retail sale.
Pursuant to the MRTA, the manufacturing of cannabis products both for recreational and medical purposes is legal in Erie County. The MRTA requires that cannabis manufacturing processes in New York State be carried out in compliance with the standard manufacturing methods stated in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 111 and Part 117. Furthermore, no cannabis products may be marketed to anybody under the age of 21. Cannabis manufacturers are also prohibited from integrating alcoholic drinks or nicotine into their products.
Manufacturing operations for cannabis approved in Erie County must occur in secure locations, which may also be approved greenhouses. Manufacturing must also be conducted in accordance with any published rules of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).
Although cannabis retail is legal in New York State, many municipalities in Erie County prohibit the retail sale of recreational cannabis within their jurisdictions. While the state legalized recreational cannabis in March 2021, the MRTA allowed municipalities to opt out of having cannabis retail sites within their borders. According to a Rockefeller Institute of Government report, about 20 Erie County municipalities opted out by prohibiting cannabis dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions.
In Erie County municipalities where recreational cannabis sales are permitted, all adult-use cannabis retail establishments must be located at least 500 feet away from school grounds and 200 feet away from houses of worship. Adult-use cannabis retail establishments are prohibited from employing on their retail premises any persons under the age of 18. Pursuant to the MRTA, no persons aged between 18 and 21 may have direct interaction with customers within the premises of cannabis retail stores.
Cannabis retail stores may not sell cannabis products to anyone if they suspect or know that their buyers intend to resell or give the products away. Further restrictions also apply to cannabis marketing information and commercials made by cannabis retail establishments. Cannabis retail stores are not allowed to place commercials or marketing information within 500 feet of playgrounds, daycare providers, school grounds, public parks, and libraries, as well as in public vehicles or stations and on publicly owned lands and billboards.
Although recreational cannabis may not be sold in many Erie County municipalities, medical cannabis dispensaries sell medical marijuana to Erie County residents who are also qualified patients registered under the New York medical cannabis program.
The delivery of medical cannabis is legal in Erie County. However, the delivery of adult-use cannabis products in Erie County municipalities where recreational cannabis sales are prohibited is illegal. In jurisdictions where adult-use cannabis retail stores are permitted to be established, consumers of recreational cannabis can have cannabis products delivered to their residences.
Note that cannabis delivery services providing medicinal cannabis to certified patients or caregivers can only distribute 60-day supplies to customers if the patients only have less than their 7-day supplies granted under previously issued medical cannabis certifications.
The MRTA requires that the age of the individual making a medical cannabis order be confirmed before the order is delivered. The order must be delivered to the right individual, who must not be visibly intoxicated. Licensed cannabis retail delivery businesses are prohibited from delivering cannabis products to anyone they suspect is intending to sell or give away the products in violation of the MRTA or any published Cannabis Control Board rules.
In New York State, medicinal marijuana (MMJ) cards are issued by the New York Department of Health. A medical marijuana (MMJ) card is required to use medicinal marijuana in Erie County. To be eligible for an MMJ card in Erie County, an applicant must live in Erie County or another part of New York State, be 18 or older, and have received medical cannabis certification from a certified medical practitioner under the medical cannabis program. Persons under the age of 18 may also get and use medicinal marijuana under New York's medical marijuana program by designating caregivers who can purchase or cultivate cannabis on their behalf.
To commence an MMJ card application in Erie County, make an appointment with a registered medical practitioner who must certify that medical cannabis is clinically suitable for you. The individual selected to be the certifying practitioner may be a state-licensed physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner. New York State maintains a list of medical cannabis program participating practitioners. You can also find telemedicine providers on the list who are not restricted by county locations in issuing medical cannabis certifications. Over 3,600 trained medical practitioners are licensed to offer medicinal cannabis certificates in the state as of April 2022. You are likely to be issued a medical cannabis certification if you suffer from one of the approved debilitating conditions.
Once the medical practitioner has diagnosed and determined that you qualify for medical marijuana, you may log in to the New York State identification portal to finish the online application procedure. If you do not have an NY.gov account, you must create one by clicking the "Don't have an Account" option on the portal's homepage.
During the online part of the MMJ application, you will be required to provide supporting evidence, such as proof of residence and the physician-issued medical cannabis certification. Also, you may designate up to two caregivers during the application online. Note that designated caregivers may only initiate their applications after your application has been approved.
Following the approval of your application, the Department of Health will issue a temporary registry identity card through the My.NY.gov account, which may be used in conjunction with a government-issued picture ID to purchase medical marijuana products from approved medical cannabis dispensaries. The temporary digital medical cannabis card is valid for 30 days. The permanent, physical copy of the medical marijuana card usually arrives in the mail within 10 business days.
Although recreational and medical marijuana are now legalized in New York, the retail sale of recreational marijuana has yet to begin. Therefore, Erie County and other New York State counties do not generate any revenue from recreational cannabis. It is expected that when the adult-use cannabis sales begin, Erie County's economy will be boosted through income from the taxes imposed on retail sales. The New York MRTA permits counties and municipalities to levy additional taxes on retail sales within their jurisdictions.
According to the Office of the New York State Governor's impact assessment study, the state's legal cannabis program will earn between $3.5 billion and $4.2 billion yearly once the state's cannabis industry is fully established. Furthermore, the 2018 impact assessment study anticipated a possible tax revenue of more than $350 million annually and the creation of up to 60,000 jobs in New York State. According to the analysis, the economic development associated with the state's legal marijuana market would extend beyond the cannabis industry to encompass areas like banking, law, tourism, real estate, construction, and security.
According to statistics obtained using the FBI UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) program, the Erie County Sheriff's Office and the Erie County Police Department recorded declining marijuana-related crime rates since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2014. In 2014, the county sheriff's office and the police department recorded 699 DUI arrests and 721 marijuana possession arrests. In 2015, 634 DUI arrests and 254 marijuana possession arrests occurred in the county. In 2016, both law enforcement agencies recorded 651 DUI arrests and 228 marijuana possession arrests.
Arrest rates for DUI in Erie County decreased significantly in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, the Erie County Sheriff's Office and the county police department recorded 560 DUI arrests and 509 marijuana possession arrests. The county's record in 2020 was 404 DUI arrests and 260 marijuana possession arrests.