New York County Cannabis Overview

  1. New York Cannabis
  2. New York County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in New York County?

Yes. Cannabis cultivation is legal in New York County. Adults aged 21 or older in New York County can cultivate up to six plants (three immature plants and three mature plants) at home in accordance with the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). New York County homes with more than one adult aged 21 or older may grow up to 12 cannabis plants (six mature plants and six immature plants).

The New York MRTA requires home-cultivated cannabis to be grown in a safe and secure place out of reach of minors. Homegrown cannabis cannot be sold or used for any purpose other than personal use. Additionally, cannabis cultivators must make reasonable efforts to limit cannabis odor and prevent public access to cultivation areas. Local governments in New York County may also pass and enforce laws pertaining to the home cultivation of cannabis; however, they may not completely ban it. Before commencing the home cultivation of cannabis, you should review any additional local ordinances that may apply to cannabis cultivation in your locality.

Note that the provisions of the MRTA regarding cannabis cultivation only apply after the New York Office of Cannabis Management promulgates rules for the home cultivation of cannabis. The rules are expected to be published no later than 18 months after the first authorized retail sale of adult-use cannabis products to consumers in the state.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in New York County?

Yes. Cannabis manufacturing is legal in New York County. The MRTA provides for the licensing of cannabis processing in the state. Hence, registered organizations, cannabis processors, and individuals can process cannabis in New York County. New York defines cannabis processing to include the extraction, preparation, treatment, modification, compounding, or manufacturing of cannabis into concentrate or extraction of its cannabinoids into a temporary or final form for human consumption. According to the MRTA, marijuana establishments that manufacture medicinal cannabis must conduct cannabis processing activities in safe and secure environments in New York State. Such locations include greenhouses approved by the Cannabis Control Board. Cannabis processing or manufacturing for recreational purposes may only begin after the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) sets forth the final rules for cannabis manufacturing.

According to the New York OCM, individuals conducting cannabis processing at home may not process cannabis with any gas or liquid other than alcohol with a flash point lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in New York County?

Yes. In accordance with the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, New York County approves the retail sale of cannabis. However, pursuant to the MRTA, cannabis retail stores are prohibited from being situated near schools or houses of worship. A cannabis retail shop must be at least 500 feet away from a school and 200 feet away from a place of worship. Additionally, cannabis retailers are not permitted to offer alcoholic beverages in their stores. Cannabis marketing materials and ads are also not allowed within 500 feet of playgrounds, child daycare providers, school grounds, public parks, and libraries, as well as in public transport vehicles or stations, on publicly owned property, or billboards.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in New York County?

The delivery of cannabis is permitted in Queens County. According to the MRTA, cannabis establishments delivering medicinal cannabis to certified patients or caregivers may not deliver more than 60-day supplies to patients until they have exhausted all but their 7-day supplies provided pursuant to previously issued medical cannabis certifications.

The MRTA mandates cannabis delivery businesses to verify the ages of consumers making orders for cannabis that will be delivered. The orders must be delivered to the appropriate persons, who must not be visibly intoxicated. The MRTA also requires cannabis and cannabis products to be packed in child-resistant, resealable containers and labeled in line with relevant rules prior to delivery. These packaging must neither be marketed to individuals under the age of 21 nor made desirable to them.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in New York County

The New York Department of Health issues medical marijuana (MMJ) cards in New York State. To use medical marijuana in New York, an individual must obtain a medical marijuana (MMJ) card. To qualify to obtain an MMJ card, an applicant must reside in New York State, be aged 18 or older, and have obtained medical cannabis certification from a medical practitioner registered under the medical cannabis program. New York's medical marijuana program also provides for persons below the age of 18 to obtain and use medicinal marijuana by allowing them to designate caregivers who can obtain or cultivate cannabis on their behalf.

The first step in obtaining an MMJ card in New York County is to schedule an appointment with a certified medical practitioner who must attest that medical cannabis is clinically appropriate for the applicant. The medical practitioner may be a state-licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse. New York State has a list of participating practitioners in the medical cannabis program that applicants may use to find qualified medical practitioners that may issue medical cannabis certifications. The list also comprises telemedicine providers who are certified to issue medical cannabis attestations. As of April 2022, over 3,600 qualified medical practitioners are certified to issue medical cannabis certifications in the state.

The following are medical conditions for which physicians may issue medical cannabis certifications in New York:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Spinal cord injury with spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Neuropathy
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic Pain
  • A severe life-threatening condition accompanied by one or more of the following complications:
    • Cachexia
    • Severe nausea
    • Seizures
    • Persistent or severe muscle spasms
    • Opioid use disorder
  • Any condition that the practitioner believes may be treated with medical cannabis

Once a practitioner has certified the use of medical marijuana by an applicant, the individual must log in to the New York State identification portal to complete the application process online. Applicants who do not have NY.gov accounts must click on the "Don't have an Account" button to create personal NY.gov IDs.

During the online part of the application process, the applicant will be required to provide supporting documentation, including the proof of residency and a physician-issued certification for medicinal cannabis. An applicant may designate up to two caregivers during the application process. Upon the approval of the applicant's registration, the designated caregiver must register with the Department via the NY.gov ID portal.

After approving a patient or caregiver's registration, the Department will issue a temporary registry identification card through the My.NY.gov account that can be used with a government-issued photo ID to purchase approved medical marijuana products. The temporary digital medical cannabis card is valid for 30 days. The permanent, physical copy of the medical marijuana card typically arrives in the mail within 10 business days.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of New York County?

Although adult-use cannabis has been legalized in New York County and the rest of New York State, retail sales have not commenced. Consequently, there is presently no sales tax revenue for adult-use cannabis accruing to the New York County government. Notwithstanding, the MRTA has established a variety of tax levies on marijuana in New York. In addition to marijuana business licensing fees and license renewal fees, the state will impose excise taxes and sales taxes to generate revenue. Municipalities in New York may also levy additional taxes within their jurisdictions.

The Office of the New York State Governor's impact assessment report estimates that the state's legal cannabis program would generate between $3.5 billion and $4.2 billion annually when the cannabis marketplace in the state is fully formed. The report's financial assumptions are partially based on estimates of illegal marijuana sales in New York, where traffickers charge more than $250 per ounce for medical-grade cannabis and $340 per ounce for high-grade cannabis.

Additionally, the 2018 impact assessment study predicted a potential tax collection of over $350 million and the creation of up to 60,000 jobs for New Yorkers. According to the report, the economic growth linked with a legal marijuana market in the state would expand beyond the cannabis business to include sectors like banking, law, tourism, real estate, construction, and security.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in New York County

The 2018 New York State marijuana legalization impact assessment study indicates that violent crime and property crime rates have not increased since the legalization of medical marijuana in the state. This analysis also reinforces the notion that the introduction of cannabis sales in New York would not lead to an increase in the state's crime rate.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, marijuana-related crime rates in New York have declined since the legalization of medical cannabis in 2014. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, there were 30,623, 29,334, and 30,102 DUI arrests, respectively. The state recorded 25,364 and 17,422 DUI arrests in 2019 and 2020. In New York, arrest numbers for marijuana sales have also decreased, from 733 and 633 in 2013 and 2014 to 332 and 130 in 2019 and 2020.

New York County Cannabis Overview