New York Marijuana Trafficking Laws

Can You Mail Weed Legally in New York?

No. It is illegal to mail cannabis in New York. Although possessing a limited amount is legal, marijuana is illegal under federal law. This makes it unlawful for the US Postal Service to transport weed even for medical use. In addition, mailing weed through third-party carriers remains illegal in New York, as these courier services must comply with federal shipping laws. Under New York state law, it is unlawful for any individual to sell or transport 3 or more ounces of marijuana or give the same to a person below 21 years.

What Are the Penalties for Transporting Edibles Across State Lines in New York?

Edibles are food or drinks infused with cannabis. It is common to find edibles made as brownies, cookies, candy, sweets, and beverages such as coffee and energy drinks. Although New York has decriminalized the possession of less than three ounces of cannabis, mailing edibles across state lines is a federal offense. US Code 841 outlines the offenses and penalties for New Yorkers who transport edibles outside the state:

  • Less than 50 kilograms of edible marijuana: An individual transporting an edible mixture containing marijuana of less than 50 kilograms faces incarceration of up to 5 years and a fine not more than $250,000.00.
  • 50 kilograms to 99 kilograms: A first-time offender faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.00 for individuals, or $5,000,000.00 for offenders other than an individual.
  • 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms: An offender faces 5 to 40 years in jail and a fine not exceeding $5,000,000.00 for individuals, or $25,000,000.00 for offenders other than individuals.
  • 1,000 kilograms or more: Persons arrested with more than 1,000 kilograms face jail time of between 10 years and life. The defendant may also pay fines up to $10,000,000.00 as an individual and $50,000,000.00 if not an individual.
  • Transporting edibles to a minor: Transporting edible cannabis greater than 5 grams to persons under 18 doubles the individual penalties based on weight.

How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed in New York

The following are common defenses used to beat drug trafficking charges in New York:

  • The legality of the search: The defense can argue that the search that led to the discovery was illegally done by threatening violence, ignoring proper procedure, or corruption. The defense can also demonstrate the illegality of the search by proving that the involved law enforcement officer failed to read the individual their rights before the arrest and seizure.
  • Quantity of Drugs Recovered: Charges are sometimes dismissed based on the actual weight of the illegal substance. This strategy requires proof that the marijuana seized was insufficient to qualify for a trafficking offense.
  • Proof of Ownership: Proving that the drug does not belong to the defendant is another way to beat a marijuana trafficking charge. The law enforcement officer must prove that the drugs belong to the accused or risk losing the case.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment happens when a law enforcement officer plants marijuana on the defendant or coerces the accused into committing the crime. A court may dismiss charges if the defense can prove entrapment.
  • Intention: The defense can prove that the accused intended to consume the marijuana personally and did not plan to traffick or distribute the substance. However, this method may only reduce the charge to a misdemeanor for marijuana possession instead of getting it dismissed.
  • Plea Deal: The defense can cooperate with the investigation by providing required information on the crime, such as details of a trafficking network. The right amount of information can get the defendant a reduced charge or outright dismissal.

Generally, the punishment an individual receives for trafficking other controlled substances is different from penalties applicable to marijuana, and may be less or more stringent depending on other factors.

Drug Trafficking Facts in New York

The New York Penal Code 220.77 stipulates three circumstances where an individual is guilty of major drug trafficking:

  • An individual is in control of an organization that sells controlled substances and makes sales of at least $75,000.00 within 12 months or less.
  • A director or a member of an organization who, within six months, knowingly and illegally collects the proceeds from the sale of narcotics worth $75,000.00 or more.
  • An individual within a controlled substance organization who, within six months or less, possesses narcotic drugs worth over $75,000.00 with the intent to sell them.

The Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (BNE) combats drug trafficking in New York by monitoring and regulating controlled substances throughout the state. Also, the US Drug Enforcement Agency works in partnership with the BNE to assist the state in critical drug trafficking areas. Generally, all drug trafficking charges in New York are A-1 felony charges with varying penalties and fines. The US Sentencing Commission reported 64,565 cases of drug trafficking in 2020, with seven drug types making up 96.8% of drugs trafficked.

How Many Grams of Weed Is Considered Trafficking in New York?

New York laws are strict on trafficking marijuana and make it illegal to distribute any quantity. Although the smallest quantity does not include jail time, it is still a violation punishable by fines of up to $250.00. Trafficking marijuana in larger quantities attracts stiffer penalties.

Marijuana trafficking laws differ from drug trafficking laws in New York. The sale and distribution of any quantity constitutes a criminal charge for trafficking weed and carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence. However, New York drug trafficking laws are stiffer and may differ depending on the drug classification and amount. The penalty includes a minimum jail sentence of 15 - 25 years and a maximum jail sentence of 25 years to life. Also, fines get as high as $100,000.00 depending on the drug and quantity.

What Are the Weed Trafficking Consequences in New York?

Distributing the smallest amount of marijuana in New York can have legal implications. Persons caught trafficking weed face the following consequences:

  • Below three ounces: The intentional distribution of cannabis below three ounces is a misdemeanor offense. While there is no prison time, the individual faces a fine of up to $250.00.
  • More than three ounces: The punishment for knowingly distributing weed of this quantity attracts a maximum jail time of one year and fines not exceeding $1,000.00.
  • More than 16 ounces of weed: A person faces a maximum of four years in prison for knowingly selling or distributing more than 16 ounces of marijuana. The courts may also mandate fines of up to $5,000.00.
  • More than five pounds: The penalty for the distribution of this amount is jail time not exceeding seven years and fines not exceeding $5,000.00.
  • Above one hundred pounds: A person is guilty of aggravated criminal sale of weed if they knowingly traffic over 100 pounds of cannabis. The punishment is a maximum of 15 years in jail with fines of up to $15,000.00.
  • Distribution to a Child: Distributing marijuana to a person less than 17 years attracts a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.
  • Near or close to a school ground: Any person who intentionally sells or distributes marijuana on a school ground, inside a school bus, a child daycare, or an educational facility commits a felony. The offense is punishable by up to 25 years in jail.

How to Transport Weed Legally in New York

According to New York law, persons at least 21 years old looking to transport weed legally must apply by sending written applications to the Office of Cannabis Management. Each license is valid for 2 years. The office requires all packaged and labeled cannabis products for adult use to adhere to the following:

  • Fully enclosed to minimize exposure, prevent contamination, or emit any scent or sound.
  • Packaging must be unattractive to persons under 21.
  • Cannabis products must be placed in a child-resistant, resealable, and single-use package.
  • There must be warning labels warning potential consumers of the impact of marijuana consumption.
  • Packaging must state the exact amount of THC, a list of all ingredients, milligrams per serving, number of servings, the weight of the product, and lot number.
  • Edible cannabis products packaging must include the expiry date, use-by date, proper storage conditions, manufacturer’s contact details, and legible warnings.
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