Yes, cannabis cultivation is legal in Suffolk County for medical and recreational use. In New York, Suffolk County's home state, medical cannabis was legalized on July 5, 2014, through the New York Compassionate Care Act. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2021 through the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. This Act established the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) as the state agency responsible for regulating recreational and medical cannabis in New York. According to the rules of the OCM (Title 9, Chapter II of the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations), registered medical marijuana patients aged 21 years or older may legally cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants at home for personal use. Registered medical marijuana caregivers may grow cannabis plants for up to four registered patients. However, they can only cultivate a maximum of 12 cannabis plants at once.
Medical marijuana patients in Suffolk County growing cannabis plants at home are required to restrict public access to their cultivation areas and entry by underaged individuals (persons below 21 years). Also, as stipulated in Section 1004.5 of the New York Code, registered medical marijuana organizations can legally cultivate marijuana plants for sale to registered medical marijuana patients. The provisions of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act allow adults, 21 years and older, to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home for recreational use. However, home cultivation of marijuana plants in Suffolk County (and other counties in New York) may only begin after the OCM issues regulations for home cultivation of marijuana for recreational use. Right now, licensed cannabis cultivators may legally grow cannabis plants in Suffolk County for recreational use. Different cities in the county have local laws for regulating cannabis cultivation within their jurisdictions.
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Suffolk County. According to the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, licensed cannabis processors can legally extract cannabis compounds and manufacture cannabis products for sale to other licensed cannabis businesses. Also, the rules of the Office of Cannabis Management (Title 9, Chapter II of the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations) allow registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers in Suffolk County to process up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use. However, they cannot process cannabis at home using any gas or liquid (other than alcohol) with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Retail cannabis operations are legal in Suffolk County. According to Section 1004.5 of the New York Code, registered medical marijuana patients may purchase marijuana products from the dispensary facilities of registered organizations. Also, per the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, licensed retail dispensaries may sell cannabis products to adults aged 21 years and older for recreational use. Eligible persons may purchase up to three ounces of marijuana flower.) and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis products, including tinctures, oils, vapes, and edibles. However, Section 423, Part II of the Suffolk County Code, prohibits the sale of marijuana-flavored candy in Suffolk County.
As stipulated in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, municipal authorities may establish local ordinances regulating retail cannabis operations within their borders. Prospective retail dispensary licensees are required to notify the local authorities of the cities where they intend to establish their facilities before applying to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) for licenses.
Cannabis delivery is legal in Suffolk County. The provisions of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act permit registered organizations to deliver cannabis products to registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers within the county. Also, cannabis delivery business licensees, retail dispensaries, and microbusinesses may deliver marijuana products for recreational use to adults aged 21 years and older within Suffolk County.
Medical marijuana registry identification cards issued under the New York medical cannabis program allow medical marijuana patients in Suffolk County to obtain cannabis products from registered dispensing facilities legally. A medical marijuana patient in Suffolk County must be diagnosed with a severe medical condition by a registered practitioner before they can be issued a medical marijuana registry ID card. The following medical conditions qualify patients for medical marijuana treatment in Suffolk County:
To obtain a medical marijuana registry ID card in Suffolk County, a patient must contact a registered practitioner who may issue them a certification if their medical condition qualifies them for medical marijuana treatment. Afterward, the patient must create a personal NY.gov.ID account and register with the New York medical cannabis data management system (MCDMS). The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) provides detailed registration instructions for medical marijuana registry ID card applicants. Successful applicants will receive their medical marijuana registry identification cards in the mail. Medical marijuana registry identification card applicants in Suffolk County may make inquiries with the OCM by calling (888) 5151-626 or sending emails to email@example.com.
Cannabis legalization has positively impacted the economy of New York and Suffolk County. Currently, there is no official data showing the amount of cannabis-generated revenue in the county. However, a 2018 report by the New York City comptroller estimated the legal recreational cannabis market in New York at $3.1 billion annually.
According to crime data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office made 83 arrests for cannabis possession offenses and two arrests for cannabis sales in 2013. In 2014, the year of medical cannabis legalization in the county, marijuana possession arrests decreased to 41 while marijuana sales arrests declined to 2. There were no reports of marijuana sales arrests by the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office between 2018 and 2020. However, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office made 51 cannabis possession arrests in 2018, 87 in 2019, and 16 in 2020.
In addition, the FBI crime report showed that the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office made 209 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests in 2013. This number decreased to 80 arrests in 2014 before increasing to 146 arrests in 2015. Also, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office reported 169 DUI arrests in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the number of DUI arrests decreased to 131. This data reveals that the number of cannabis sales arrests in Suffolk County decreased steadily after medical marijuana legalization. However, the number of arrests for cannabis possession and DUI offenses in the county did not follow a specific trend. Currently, the FBI crime data does not include arrest figures for DUI or marijuana-related offenses recorded by the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office since recreational cannabis legalization in 2021.