Monroe County Cannabis Overview

  1. New York Cannabis
  2. Monroe County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Monroe County? 

Yes. Cannabis cultivation is legal in Monroe County in accordance with section 15 of Article 222 of the New York State Penal Law. Anyone above the age of 21 may plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, process, and possess no more than six cannabis plants (three mature and three immature). However, regardless of the number of adults in one household, they may only cultivate a maximum of twelve plants (six mature and six immature). Personal cultivation of cannabis plants is allowed only within or on the grounds of a person’s private residence.

The cultivator must also take all measures needed to ensure that people under the age of 21 must not have access to these plants. Any cannabis plants cultivated at home may not be sold and must only be consumed for personal use.

According to chapter 2, section 115.2 of the Cannabis Law, patients above the age of 21 may also cultivate cannabis plants at home. When their physical or cognitive impairments hinder them from cultivating the plants themselves, each patient may have only one designated caregiver to grow cannabis on their behalf.

Making cannabis hash oil or concentrates using substances like butane, propane, or alcohol with home-grown cannabis is illegal. Local municipalities have the freedom to enforce their own policies and regulations regarding home cultivation as long as they do not completely ban or prohibit this.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Monroe County?

Yes, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Monroe County becuase of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) which was signed into law last March 31, 2021. Its county seat, the City of Rochester, showed its full support to the cannabis industry since its legalization. This is to help maximize the social and economic opportunities that the legalization of adult use of cannabis entails. The city also aims to join the state’s efforts in addressing the negative effects of the war on drugs.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is in charge of drafting New York’s cannabis business regulations, together with the Cannabis Control Board. It should be noted that since the cannabis law is fairly new in the state of New York, business regulations for recreational marijuana are still currently being developed.

However, pursuant to the Cannabis Law, local municipalities are given the chance to opt out of allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption businesses within their jurisdictions. But cities, towns, and villages could not prohibit the adult use of cannabis. According to the Marijuana Opt-Out Tracker of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, 18 municipalities in Monroe County have opted out of allowing dispensaries within their area while 20 municipalities have prohibited consumption sites of cannabis.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Monroe County?

Yes. Pursuant to the Cannabis Law in the state of New York, cannabis retail in Monroe County is legal. A licensed retail dispensary is authorized to acquire, sell, possess, and deliver cannabis to its consumers.

The OCM, however, prioritizes social and economic equity applicants. This means that at least 50% of dispensary licenses will be reserved for justice-involved individuals who have suffered because of the prohibition of cannabis in the past. The standard process of applying for a dispensary license is yet to be established by the OCM.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Monroe County?

Yes. Pursuant to Article 222.05 of the New York State Penal Law which discusses the regulations on the personal use of cannabis, an adult who is 21 years of age or older is allowed to possess, obtain, purchase, display, or transport and give or transfer up to three ounces of cannabis or up to twenty-four grams of concentrated cannabis.

Every consumer must make sure that their cannabis purchase is from an authorized dispensary that also has a license to deliver.

Medical marijuana card holders and designated caregivers may also have their cannabis purchases delivered as long as they order from registered dispensaries in Monroe County that accommodate deliveries within their area.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Monroe County

There are three steps in obtaining a registry ID card from the OCM in the state of New York:

  1. Get Certified. Patients who seek to use medical marijuana to help serious health conditions may consult with a practitioner first to see if cannabis would be appropriate for their treatment. Certifications for the use of medical marijuana must only be issued by practitioners who are authorized by the New York State to prescribe controlled substances such as cannabis.
  2. Register Online. After getting a certification from their practitioner, the patient must register with the Medical Cannabis Program through the OCM’s Patient Registration System. The patient will be issued a temporary registry identification card that can be used immediately while they wait for their registry ID card to be approved and mailed to them.
  3. Purchase Cannabis. The patient may now visit a registered organization’s medical dispensing facility. They will be asked to present their registry ID or temporary registry ID along with their certification.

When the applicant is under the age of eighteen (18) or is incapable of giving consent to medical treatment, an appropriate person over the age of twenty-one (21) may process the registration on their behalf. A designated caregiver must at least be one of the following:

  • A parent or legal guardian of the certified patient
  • A person assigned by the parent or legal guardian
  • An appropriate person provided by the OCM in cases where no parent or legal guardian is available or was deemed fit to be a caregiver
  • An employee of a designated caregiver facility with a cannabis research license

Designated caregivers must also register to the Medical Cannabis Program and will be issued their own registry ID card before they can purchase medical cannabis on behalf of the patient. They may find more information on how to register as a designated caregiver here.

If a patient is new to the Medical Cannabis Program, they would also have to register their new certification at my.ny.gov and create a personal account. They can also add their designated caregiver’s information there.

If the patient is not new to the program, there is no need to re-register at my.ny.gov. However, they can register new information on their card or on their caregiver’s to make necessary changes.

A certified patient or designated caregiver must notify the Medical Cannabis Program of any changes in their name or address not more than ten (10) business days since the change.

For more information about the Medical Cannabis Program, they may call at 888-626-5151 or e-mail medical@ocm.ny.gov.

For Monroe County residents, they may reach out to their local Public Health department:

111 Westfall Road

Rochester, New York 14620

Email: MCHealth@MonroeCounty.gov

Phone: 585 753-5555

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Monroe County?

Since its legalization on March 31, 2021, the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) has outlined its provisions on taxation and revenue.

Adult-Use Cannabis Taxation

The MRTA established three taxes on adult-use cannabis. The first one is imposed on the distributor based on the milligrams (mg) of total THC in the product. Different tax rates apply to different products.

  • Edibles (food and drinks) - $0.03 per mg of total THC
  • Concentrates (vaporization oil and resin) - $0.008 per mg of total THC
  • Cannabis flower (loose flower or pre-rolls) = $0.005 per mg of total THC

These taxes are applicable when the cannabis is sold from the distributor to a retailer and must be paid by the distributor to the State.

The second one is the state excise tax, rated at 9% of a product’s price, which is imposed on cannabis sales made between a retailer and a consumer.

The third is the local excise tax, rated at 4% of a product’s price, which is imposed on cannabis sales made between a retailer and a consumer. This tax will, later on, be distributed to the local governments where the retail dispensary is located. 25% of the tax revenue will go to counties, while the remaining 75% will be given to local municipalities within the county.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue Distribution

Taxes collected from adult-use cannabis are deposited in the New York State Cannabis Fund. It shall cover the costs of cannabis programs and implementing the MRTA, which includes the OCM’s operation costs, Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) training, and establishing incubators and the workforce needed for social and economic equity applicants.

The remaining tax revenue after the costs mentioned above will then be distributed among three different funds: 40% - State Lottery Fund for education purposes, 40% - Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, and 20% - Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.

Medical Cannabis Taxation and Revenue

Medical Cannabis is subjected to a 7% excise tax. It is charged against and paid by the registered organization. This cannot be added as additional tax to the retail customer. Taxes collected from medical cannabis will be deposited to the Medical Cannabis Trust Fund and are distributed as follows:

  • 45% - New York State Cannabis Revenue Fund
  • 22.5% - Counties in New York where the medical cannabis was manufactured and allocated
  • 22.5% - Counties in New York where the medical cannabis was dispensed and allocated
  • 5% - Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) for additional drug abuse prevention, counseling, and treatment services
  • 5% - Division of Criminal Justice Services for a program of discretionary grants to state and local law enforcement agencies

Based on research done by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the legalization of adult use of cannabis in the state of New York could generate a $4.1 billion economic output and could create around 30,700 jobs. This could also attract hundreds of millions of capital investment as this new industry emerges.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Monroe County

The FBI crime report from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was able to record the following cannabis-related arrests, five years before the adult use of cannabis was legalized in the state of New York:

YEAR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) OFFENSES MARIJUANA POSSESSION OFFENSES MARIJUANA SALES OFFENSES
2016 374 53 0
2017 378 145 1
2018 335 92 0
2019 345 53 0
2020 175 12 1

According to these numbers, Monroe County had a declining rate of DUI arrests through the years, with a significant drop in 2020. Arrests for marijuana possession were at their highest in 2017 and were at their lowest in 2020. In the past five years, there were only two recorded arrests for marijuana sales offenses: one in 2017 and one in 2020. Adult use of marijuana was legalized in the state of New York in 2021.

Monroe County Cannabis