New York Marijuana Distribution Laws

What Is Possession With Intent To Distribute Marijuana in New York?

Marijuana possession with intent to distribute (PWID) is a more severe charge than standard marijuana possession. If charged with marijuana possession with intent to distribute, the law enforcement believes there is evidence suggesting that you intended to sell the marijuana in your possession. A standard marijuana possession charge does not involve evidence suggesting the intention to sell the marijuana found on the defendant. The circumstance typically used by New York law enforcement as evidence for PWID include the presence of:

  • A scale for weighing marijuana
  • Marijuana paraphernalia
  • Large amounts of marijuana on the defendant
  • Small bags for packaging marijuana
  • A significant amount of cash in possession of the defendant
  • Online communications stating plans to make transactions

Can You Enter a Dispensary at 18 in New York?

No. You must be 21 or older before entering a cannabis dispensary in New York. A current and valid identification card showing your age will be required before entering a cannabis dispensary. Although medical marijuana is available to persons under 21 in New York, such persons must purchase medical marijuana through their designated caregivers, who are required to be aged 21 or older.

Can You Enter a Dispensary Without a Card in New York?

You only need a valid identification card showing you are of legal age (21 or older) before entering a cannabis dispensary to purchase recreational weed. However, if you are purchasing medical marijuana, a medical marijuana registry identification card will be required.

What Are the Penalties for Possession With Intent To Distribute First Offense in New York?

In New York, marijuana possession is a serious crime. Marijuana possession with the intent to distribute (PWID) attracts even stiffer penalties. If an individual is caught with a small amount of marijuana, law enforcement will likely conclude that the individual intends to use the substance for personal purposes and will charge such a person with marijuana possession. However, if a person is caught with a substantial amount of marijuana, law enforcement will suspect that such an individual is in the marijuana distribution business. The person will be charged with not just marijuana possession but also marijuana possession with intent to distribute and drug selling.

In New York, marijuana possession with intent to distribute more than 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis is considered a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor in the state is punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines.

If the amount in possession of the defendant charged with a PWID is more than 16 ounces of cannabis or 5 ounces of concentrated cannabis or the individual is selling or giving more than 24 grams of concentrated cannabis or 3 ounces of cannabis to a person under 18, the offense is deemed a Class E felony. A Class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines.

An individual found with more than 5 pounds of cannabis or 2 pounds of concentrated cannabis and charged with marijuana PWID in New York is deemed to have considered a Class D felony. A Class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines. If the amount of marijuana found in possession of a defendant charged with PWID is more than 100 pounds, the individual will be charged with a Class C felony. A Class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000.

On the federal level, a first-time conviction of marijuana possession with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of the substance is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. For between 50 and 99 kilograms of marijuana, the offense is punishable by no more than 20 years imprisonment and up to $1,000,000 in fines, according to Section 841 of 21 USC.

If 100 kilograms or more of marijuana is involved, the defendant will serve a minimum 5-year imprisonment term up to a maximum 40-year term and pay between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000 in fines. If 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana is involved, the defendant will serve a minimum 10-year minimum term up to a maximum life-term sentence and between $4,000,000 and $10,000,000 in fines. Note that a defendant will serve a minimum mandatory 20-year imprisonment sentence if death or serious bodily harm results from the use of the marijuana sold.

Is It Legal To Sell Weed in New York?

No. The unlicensed sale of marijuana is illegal in New York State. Although the state's Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) permits adults aged 21 and older to possess, transport, and purchase up to 3 ounces or 85 grams of marijuana and up to 24 grams of marijuana concentrates, the MRTA prohibits unlicensed individuals from selling marijuana.

If law enforcement finds that you are in possession of an amount of marijuana deemed excessive for personal use, you may be charged with marijuana possession with intent to distribute or intention to sell violation. According to New York law, "sell" does not only refer to the exchange of money for marijuana. It includes swapping marijuana for another substance, disposing it to another individual, or giving it away.

How To Sell to Dispensaries in New York?

You may sell marijuana to dispensaries in New York if you have a cannabis distributor or microbusiness license. While the microbusiness license permits the licensee to operate on a restricted scale, the distributor license allows the licensee to engage in the wholesale acquisition, transportation, distribution, and selling of cannabis from licensed cannabis cultivator and manufacturer facilities to retail, on-site consumption, and cannabis delivery establishments. In order to apply for a cannabis distribution license, you must be aged 21 or older and possess the right to use sufficient properties (land, buildings, and equipment) to perform cannabis distribution activities adequately. You must also not have any felony conviction or have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude. Your cannabis establishment must have entered into a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.

Pursuant to Section 3.1 of the MRTA, your establishment must have a significant presence in New York if you intend to obtain a cannabis distribution license. Legal entities and corporations are required to have their primary offices in New York, be incorporated or otherwise established under the laws of New York State and have a majority of their ownership composed of New York residents.

How To Get a Distribution License in New York

New York does not currently issue cannabis distributor licenses, having only legalized recreational marijuana in 2021. Cannabis distribution licenses will be issued by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The OCM is currently developing regulations to guide the license application and issuance processes in the adult-use cannabis industry in the state. However, note that the OCM will promote social and economic equity for applicants.

New York's social and economic equity program is aimed at helping residents living in communities disproportionately impacted by prior cannabis law enforcement and persons such as minority and women-owned businesses, struggling farmers, and disabled veterans. Up to 50% of New York cannabis licenses will be issued to social and economic equity applicants. For more information on obtaining cannabis distribution licenses, check the OCM website for regular updates.