New York Marijuana Laws

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Is Marijuana Legal in New York?

New York legalized medical marijuana for residents through the Compassionate Care Act passed into law in 2015. Medical marijuana permitted the use, manufacture, delivery, transport, and administration of marijuana by patients and designated caregivers. Medical marijuana is only available to patients who have been certified by medical practitioners to suffer from certain illnesses.

On March 31, 2021, recreational marijuana was legalized for adult use through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). The Act permits adults above the age of 21 to possess, purchase, obtain, and transport marijuana in limited quantities.

New York residents over the age of 21 are allowed to legally possess up to 3 ounces or 24 grams of concentrate. Qualifying patients for medical marijauna are also allowed to possess a 60-day supply at any given time. The amount of a patient's 60-day supply is determined by the recommendations of their licensed doctors. Residents of legal age in New York may grow up to three adult/flowering cannabis plants and three seedlings at a time. In a particular home, no more than 6 plants and 6 seedlings are permitted, regardless of the number of inhabitants. It should be noted that home cultivation is presently prohibited as the final rules for recreational home growing in New York have yet to be established.

It is permissible to smoke marijuana in public areas where cigarette smoking is permitted, but not in vehicles, schools, or workplaces.

Can I Use Cannabis?

Yes, you can use cannabis as long as certain conditions are met. Per the MRTA, New Yorkers aged 21 and older can use, smoke, ingest or consume cannabis or concentrated cannabis products, including marijuana without being penalized.

Cannabis originates from the cannabis plant and contains the active ingredient delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which affects brain function. It is a drug that can alter perception and mood. Following the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA), cannabis was outlawed for any use. Many believed cannabis was addictive and was linked to violent actions.

New York Marijuana Laws in 2022

Effective March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo legalized adult-use marijuana and provided for licensure of producers, distributors, and retailers throughout New York State. The legislature established the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board, and authorizes the Board to regulate the licensure and establishment of New York cannabis retail dispensary licenses and on-site consumption licenses. The newly signed law makes substantial investments in communities and people most impacted by cannabis criminalization. It also reduces the illegal drug market and violent crime, ends the racially disparate impact of existing cannabis laws, creates new industries, reduces unemployment, and strengthens the state's agriculture sector among other goals.

Persons over the age of 21 may have three mature and three immature cannabis plants in their own home under the new law, with a maximum of six mature and six juvenile plants per private residence. Cannabis plants can be stored within the person's private residence or on the grounds of their private residence. Home growers are advised to ensure that cultivated cannabis is in secured places and inaccessible to persons below the legal age of 21.

In order to allow the regulated cannabis market time to flourish, home cultivation is not permitted until 18 months after the first recreational dispensaries operate. Certified medical cannabis patients over the age of 21 and their authorized caregivers, on the other hand, may grow cannabis for personal use beginning six months after the legislation's effective date..

New York counties, towns, cities, and villages can reasonably regulate personal cultivation of cannabis provided that a violation of any regulation approved by the municipality constitutes no more than an infraction and can be punished by no more than a discretionary civil penalty of no more than $200. Counties, towns, cities, and villages are permitted to prohibit individuals from engaging in personal cultivation.

Cities, towns, and villages can opt out of allowing retail dispensaries and on-site consumption through local law, subject to permissive referendum. They have until 9 months after the effective date of the legislation (December 31, 2021) to adopt local laws requesting the Cannabis Control Board prohibit the establishment of retail dispensaries and on-site consumption within their jurisdiction.

Because municipal legislation is subject to permissive referendum, voters have the ability to overturn the decision in certain cases. Voters who reject the legislation will have the chance to collect enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot and possibly overturn the government's decision in their towns. After December 31, 2021, no local legislation may be passed to ban these businesses; however, municipalities can enact a local law to remove previously established restrictions after this date.

The New York marijuana law imposes taxes on both the distributor and the customer. The distributor of recreational cannabis products pays a tax based on the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milligram in the product. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive ingredient that causes the "high" often associated with marijuana smoking or vaping. Cannabis flower is taxed at $0.005 per milligram, cannabis concentrate at $0.008 per milligram, and edible cannabis goods at $0.03 per milligram.

In addition, the state of New York levies a 9% tax on retail sales, with an additional 4% tax levied on the municipalities where the dispensary is situated. The 4% is distributed as follows: The county retains 1%, while the town, city, or village receives 3%. The county is responsible for allocating the remaining 3% to cities, municipalities, and villages on a quarterly basis based on the proportional share of sales by dispensaries in each jurisdiction. When shops are situated in villages where both the villages and towns allow cannabis retail sales, the 3 percent is divided according to an agreement between the town and the village. In the absence of an agreement, the 3% is divided equally between the town and the village.

After paying the expenses of administering New York State's legal cannabis program, the remaining income will be split as follows:

  • 40% goes to the Lottery Fund for education
  • 40% goes to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which would be used to promote social and economic equality initiatives as determined by the relevant authorities.
  • 20% to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund, which would fund new drug treatment programs, health care services and initiatives, and public health campaigns to educate the public about responsible cannabis use.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in New York happens

Currently, in New York, only medical marijuana is on sale. Recreational marijuana is not expected to go on sale until sometime in 2022. Persons purchasing medical marijuana can do so at state-licensed medical dispensaries by presenting medical marijuana (MMJ) cards and certificates. A photo ID may be required if the patient only has a temporary MMJ card. A patient certification is a form your practitioner issues to you when you have been approved to use Medical Marijuana. To obtain an MMJ card, a patient must reside in New York and have been diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions by a registered practitioner.

Medical marijuana products authorized in New York include solid dose forms such as capsules, pills, and lozenges, metered liquid or oil for vaporization or oral administration, metered powdered cannabis formulations, transdermal patches, and topicals.

Currently, smoking and smokable forms are not allowed. THC and CBD edibles and gummies are also presently banned. Cash is frequently accepted as payment at many medical marijuana shops, so bring cash with you to dispensaries.

Caregivers may also get refills from medical outlets if they have their authorized caregiver cards. A caregiver is a patient's trusted friend or family who is allowed to buy medicinal marijuana items and deliver them to the patient. Registered patients must update their patient files with the New York State Department of Health to add a designated caregiver. The caregiver would also need to fill out an online application and accept the classification as a caregiver. Medical marijuana caregiver cards are usually sent to the authorized caregivers.

While your doctor may prescribe certain methods of THC delivery via the certificate, such as edibles and sublinguals, it is completely legal for the dispensary's pharmacist to recommend something different. You can also call your doctor while at the dispensary if you are not comfortable with what the dispensary recommends.

Although the New York State Medical Marijuana Program administers the state's medical cannabis program, it does not set the prices. The price of marijuana varies from patient to patient. Formulation, dosage form, the dose of medication, and the duration of therapy all play a role in the cost to be paid by a patient at the dispensary. Typically, patients spend between $50 - $350 on purchases. A bottle of tincture usually costs about $15-$50. Vape generally costs about $70-$85. A 30-day supply of pills typically costs over $200.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in New York?

Under New York marijuana laws, a person convicted of a felony may have civil assets seized. There is also an obligatory suspension of the driver's license for 6 months for a youthful offender. Other penalties are as stipulated in the New York Marijuana Revenue and Taxation Act (MRTA). The penalties are as follows:

Possession

  • Between 3 and 8 ounces is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a 1-year jail term and a fine that may go up to $1,000
  • Between 8 ounces and 1 pound is considered a felony punishable by up to a 4-years prison term and a fine that may go up to $5,000
  • Between 1 pound and 10 pounds is considered a felony punishable by up to a 7-year jail term and a fine that may go up to $5,000
  • More than 10 pounds is considered a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000
  • Possession of marijuana in public view is considered a violation and punishable by a fine of up to $200.

Sale

  • The sale of marijuana of 25 grams or less is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a 1-year prison term and a fine that may go up to $1,000.
  • The sale of marijuana of between 25 grams and 4 ounces is considered a felony punishable by 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000
  • The sale of marijuana of between 4 ounces and 1 pound is considered a felony punishable by 7 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000
  • The sale of marijuana of more than 1 pound is considered a felony punishable by a 15-year jail term and a fine that may go up to $15,000
  • Using a child to assist in the sale of marijuana is considered a felony punishable by a jail time of 4 years and a fine of up to $5,000
  • The sale of marijuana to a minor is considered a felony punishable by an imprisonment term of 7 years and a fine that may go up to $5,000.

Trafficking

  • There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for persons caught trafficking marijuana. This violation is considered a felony worthy of a $100,000 fine and can also be punished with a 25-year imprisonment term.

Cultivation

  • Cultivating marijuana of more than 6 plants is considered a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in prison and a fine that may go as high as $1,000.

Hash and Concentrates

  • Possession of between 24 grams and 1 ounce is considered a felony punishable by 7 years in jail and a fine that may go as high as $5,000.
  • Possession of 1 ounce or more is considered a felony punishable by 15 years in jail and up to $15,000 in fines.
  • The sale of hash and concentrates is considered a felony punishable by 15 years in jail and up to $15,000 in fines.

Paraphernalia

  • Sale or possession of scales or balances for weighing or measuring marijuana is a crime punishable by one year in prison. A second violation would be deemed a felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and $5,000 in penalties.

What is New York's Cannabis History?

In the 1800s, marijuana was considered legal when it first appeared in New York. By 1906, the United States Congress had passed the Food and Drug Act, enabling residents of the United States to get marijuana prescriptions. However, marijuana was outlawed in all forms in 1927, after a story in the July edition of the New York Times of a family hurt by the use of marijuana plants.

The Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia, formed a commission in 1939 to investigate the effects of marijuana. The committee, in its report, released in 1944 published that cannabis could not be associated with murders, other violent actions, and addiction. Still, the report was discredited by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics as "unscientific."

In 1973, the Rockefeller Drug Laws went into effect and stipulated strict penalties for persons caught selling two ounces or more of marijuana; a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 25 years in jail. By 1977, possession of marijuana in quantities of 25 grams or less was decriminalized, with violators only punished with a fine of $100.

Following a directive of the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio in 2014, the New York Police Department only issued tickets for small possession of marijuana even where the 1977 change in law stipulated arrests. This included instances such as cannabis entering "public view" during stop-and-frisk occurrences.

In 2015, New York passed the Compassionate Care Act which permitted marijuana for medical use. The Act provided for the number of licenses to be issued for medical dispensaries and permitted only patients suffering from certain illnesses to use medical marijuana.

Following recommendations from an impact assessment report published by the New York State Department of Health in 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo finally signed legislation permitting adult-use marijuana in the state on March 31, 2021. The legislation permitted adults aged 21 and older to possess up to 3 ounces or 24 grams of concentrated versions of the cannabis plant outside their homes.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in New York?

While medical use and adult-use marijuana have been legalized in New York, it does not mean that there are no restrictions. Per the MRTA, the following are restrictions placed on marijuana use in the state:

  • No resident under the age of 21 is permitted to buy or use cannabis. Minors who require medical marijuana must have adult caregivers purchase marijuana on their behalf.
  • Public smoking of marijuana is only allowed where tobacco smoking is allowed
  • The selling of marijuana to minors is prohibited
  • Using a child in the sale of marijuana is prohibited
  • It is an offense to possess or sell more than 3 ounces or 25 grams of marijuana
  • New York residents cannot consume cannabis on federal lands or properties
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is an unlawful act. Driving and smoking cannabis is considered "drugged driving" in New York.
  • New York residents are not permitted to take cannabis across state lines, even if they are moving to another state where cannabis is legalized.
  • Possession of cannabis with intent to sell without a license to do so is illegal
  • Adult-use dispensaries cannot be located within 500 feet of a school and 200 feet of a house of worship. Hence, consumption within these distances is illegal.
New York Marijuana Laws