New York Marijuana Possession Laws

Is Possession of Marijuana Legal in New York?

Yes, the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana or up to 24 grams of marijuana concentrate is legal in New York per the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). MRTA makes the recreational use of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age or older.

The legal status of recreational or adult-use marijuana is recent, as MRTA only became law in March 2021. However, using medical marijuana has been legal for longer, per the New York Compassionate Care Act of 2014. This law created a framework that enabled eligible patients to purchase and use medical marijuana for qualifying medical conditions. Eligible patients are registered and issued medical marijuana cards that confer the right to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries. 

The Office of Cannabis Management is the state agency responsible for regulating the use, possession, sales, and cultivation of marijuana. Also, it reviews applications and issues licenses to marijuana cultivators, processors, distributors, and dispensaries in the state. 

How Much Weed Is a Felony in New York? 

Possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana or up to 24 grams of marijuana concentrate is not a crime. But possession of marijuana above the stipulated amount is an offense. The amount of marijuana and the age of the individual determines the offense's severity. Thus, these offenses can be violations, misdemeanors, or felonies. While violations incur a relatively small fine or civil penalties, felonies are subject to fines and lengthy jail terms. The following marijuana offenses are classified as felonies in New York State

Class E Felony: 

  • Unlawful possession of marijuana that weighs above five pounds or marijuana concentrate that weighs above two pounds.
  • Unlawful sales of more than 16 ounces of marijuana or more than five ounces of marijuana concentrate.
  • Unlawful sales of more than three ounces of marijuana or more than 24 grams of marijuana concentrate to a person less than 18 years of age. Except it complies with article three of the marijuana law.
  • The maximum possible sentence is four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Class D Felony:

  • Unlawful possession of marijuana above ten pounds or marijuana concentrates above four pounds.

  • Unlawful sales of more than five pounds of marijuana or more than two pounds of marijuana concentrate.

  • The maximum possible sentence is seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Class C Felony: 

  • Possession of one ounce or more of marijuana concentrate. 
  • Unlawful sales of more than one hundred pounds of marijuana or marijuana concentrate.
  • The maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

What Are the Penalties for 1st Time Offense of Possession of Weed in New York?

There are no separate penalties for a first-time offense of unlawful possession of marijuana in New York. However, a first conviction of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 – $1,000 or up to one year in jail. This is accompanied by revocation of license for six months.

Where to Buy Legal Weed in New York

Presently, the Office of Cannabis Management maintains a list of dispensaries where adults and eligible persons may buy medical marijuana from dispensaries registered with the Office. The list provides information about the dispensaries, including their phone numbers, their license numbers, and physical address. 

There are no authorized dispensaries for buying marijuana for recreational use at this time. However, this will change in the future. The Office of Cannabis Management is working on regulatory frameworks to license state-registered marijuana dispensaries for adult (recreational) use. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Weed in New York?

It is legal for New Yorkers 21 years and older to purchase, consume, and give marijuana to people who meet the age limit. Individuals who wish to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries must provide a valid means of identification to prove that they are up to the legal age.

How Much Weed Can You Carry in New York?

It is legal to possess up to three ounces (85 g) of marijuana and up to 24 grams (0.85 ounces) of marijuana concentrate. New York residents with medical marijuana cards can hold up to a 60-day supply of an approved medical marijuana product at any time. Residents can store up to five pounds of marijuana at home. 

What Happens if You Get Caught With Weed Under 18 in New York?

According to New York State legislation, it is unlawful for any person under 21 years who is not a registered medical marijuana patient to possess, buy, sell or use any amount of marijuana. If caught, they will face a civil penalty of not more than $50 and also undergo drug education.

Generally, youthful offenders do not qualify for a criminal conviction. Also, they are not disqualified from holding any public office. Furthermore, their records are kept discreetly under state laws.  

The penalty for minors is milder in comparison to that faced by those who sold or handed marijuana to them. According to state laws, sales of marijuana in any amount to a person under 18 years of age is a class E felony. It is punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $5,000.

How Many Marijuana Plants Can You Have in New York?

Six to 12 plants. An individual is permitted to grow up to six plants either indoors or outdoors for recreational use. This comprises three mature and three immature plants. 

Meanwhile, a household, regardless of the number of residents, can cultivate a maximum of 12 plants. This comprises six mature plants and six immature plants.

  • Patients with medical marijuana cards or their designated caregivers who should be 21 years of age or older can cultivate marijuana for use by such patients. 
  • No patient should have more than one caregiver cultivate marijuana on their behalf. They are allowed to cultivate just as much as the number that is lawful for adult-use marijuana (six - 12 plants).
  • Note that home-cultivated marijuana is for personal consumption. State laws forbid selling or making home-grown marijuana into concentrates. Also, home growers must ensure people under 21 years do not have access to the plants. Otherwise, they may face civil and criminal penalties. 
  • Individuals or households exceeding legal cultivation limits or selling home-grown pot will face charges. 
  • Note that growing more than the legal number of plants attracts a civil penalty of up to $200.

How Much Weed Can You Fly With from New York?

The airspace is a federal territory. As such, federal laws make it illegal to fly with weed, even when interstate travel involves states where weed is legal. This restriction is because, from a federal perspective, weed in any quantity is illegal, and federal law governs airplane travel in the United States of America. 

Although marijuana is illegal on a federal level, Transport Security Administration (TSA) allows travelers with medical marijuana to travel with marijuana products containing no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. Even under this special permission, a person may only travel with less than three ounces of marijuana and 24 grams of marijuana concentrate.

Furthermore, it is important to get information about the final destination and what their marijuana laws are since marijuana is not legal in every state. 

Is It Illegal to Be High in Public in New York? 

No, there are no penalties for being high in public. However, New York State's Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) prohibits smoking and vaping in some public and private indoor workplaces. So although smoking is not illegal, there are exceptions to locations where it is allowed.

  • This restriction includes smoking in federal-controlled territories like national parks and forests. Furthermore, smoking in vehicles, playgrounds, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, recreation centers, schools, group camps, and workplaces is prohibited. 
  • New York residents may not use marijuana on private property where the property owner has banned marijuana or tobacco products.
  • Smoking marijuana in prohibited areas will result in a civil penalty of $25 – $50 or up to 20 hours of community service.

Meanwhile, smoking in a parked or moving vehicle is illegal. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of marijuana or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by drugs is a misdemeanor per the Vehicle and Traffic Law, section 1192(4). 

  • The penalties for DUI and DWAI include revoking the individual’s driver’s license. The court may also impose fines and a jail term. This restriction also applies to vehicle operators with medical marijuana cards. 
  • The possession of open containers of marijuana while in a vehicle violates the open container law, and an offender will face charges for a traffic infraction. 
  • A vehicle search is lawful if the vehicle operator showed signs of impaired driving. Officers can only carry out this search on parts of the vehicle that are accessible. Officers may only search a car’s trunk if there is probable cause that the trunk contains evidence.
In this section: