As of 2021, the possession and use of marijuana (laws) for recreational purposes is illegal in the state of New York. However, the state has a medical marijuana program, which allows patients with certain conditions to access marijuana for medicinal purposes with a prescription from a licensed healthcare practitioner. Additionally, on March 31, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will legalize recreational marijuana use for individuals 21 years and older, but this legislation has not yet been passed.
The growth, sale, and possession of marijuana are all subject to state and federal regulations. In addition to heroin and cocaine, marijuana is categorized by the federal government as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and offers little to no therapeutic benefit. (21 C.F.R. § 1308.11(d)(23).) Federal law prohibits the possession of marijuana in any amount. Marijuana, which is written “marihuana” in New York law, is likewise classified as a Schedule I drug in the state of New York (N.Y. Pub. Health 3306(d)(13) (2019)). However, as of 2014, New York State permits a limited amount of medical use, as detailed below. Eastcoastlaws.com will also outline all you need to know about New York marijuana laws.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal In New York?
Yes, medical marijuana (laws) is legal in the state of New York. The Compassionate Care Act, which was passed in 2014, established a medical marijuana program that allows patients with certain conditions to access marijuana for medicinal purposes with a prescription from a licensed healthcare practitioner. The program is closely regulated and patients must register with the state in order to participate. The list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use includes cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease, among others.
Before individuals can purchase medicinal marijuana from dispensaries with a license from the state, certified patients must register with the Department of Health. All varieties of medical marijuana require the commissioner of health’s approval. Lozenges, topical medications, and vape cartridges are a few examples of acceptable forms. Patients are not permitted to smoke medical marijuana or ingest edibles under current rules and regulations.
Is It Legal To Use Marijuana For Recreation In New York?
Although it is unlawful to use and possess marijuana in New York, unlike most felonies, it is not always penalized by a jail sentence. In 2019, there are fines as low as $50 for possession of up to two ounces. Larger amounts for personal use, as well as any quantity with the purpose to sell, are illegal and subject to imprisonment or prison time. (For further details on the distinction between decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, see below.)
According to the amount of marijuana they have, people who illegally possess it in New York face penalties.
- Two ounces or less. Possessing two ounces or less of marijuana for personal use is a civil violation (like a speeding ticket) that can only be punished with a fine. Fines range from $50 to $200.
- Between two to eight ounces. Possessing more than two and up to eight ounces of marijuana is a class A misdemeanor crime. Potential penalties include up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- Between eight to 16 ounces. Possessing more than eight and up to 16 ounces of marijuana is a class E felony crime. Potential penalties include up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- Between 16 ounces and ten pounds. Possessing more than 16 ounces to 10 pounds of marijuana is a class D felony crime. Potential penalties include up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- More than ten pounds. Possessing more than ten pounds of marijuana is a class C felony crime. Potential penalties include up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.00, 70.15, 80.00, 80.05, 221 to 221.30 (2019).)
Concentrated Cannabis Laws And Potential Penalties
New York defines marijuana as the original plant buds and treats “concentrated cannabis” (basically any form of THC, like hash, that is not the original plant buds) as a controlled substance distinct from marijuana. (N.Y. Pub. Health § 3302 (2019).) People who are caught with even small amounts of concentrated cannabis can be prosecuted for possessing a controlled substance, the same charge they would face if caught with heroin or cocaine. (N.Y. Penal Law § 220 (2019).) For more information, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in New York.
Marijuana Sales Laws And Potential Penalties
Selling marijuana is addressed separately from possession and personal use. It is a crime to sell any amount of marijuana in New York. Penalties vary depending on the amount of marijuana sold and the age of the buyer.
- Two grams or less, or one marijuana cigarette. Giving away or trading two grams or less of marijuana or one marijuana cigarette is a class B misdemeanor. Potential penalties include up to three months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
- 25 grams or less. Selling 25 grams or less of marijuana (selling is considered more serious than gifting or trading) is a class A misdemeanor. Potential penalties include up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- More than 25 grams to four ounces. Selling more than 25 grams to four ounces of marijuana is a class E felony. Potential penalties include up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- More than four ounces to one pound. Selling more than four ounces to one pound of marijuana is a class D felony. Potential penalties include up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- More than one pound. Selling more than one pound of marijuana is a class C felony. Potential penalties include up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
- Selling to a minor. Selling any marijuana to a person under 18 years old is also a class D felony.
(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.00, 70.15, 80.00, 80.05, 221.35 to 221.55 (2019).)
Marijuana Cultivation Laws And Penalties
Marijuana cultivation (growing) is a class A misdemeanor. (2019) N.Y. Pub. Health 3382) Cannabis growers may also be accused of having marijuana in their possession. Feinberg v. Matter of Parmeter, 105 A.D.2d 886 (N.Y. App. Div. 1984).
Let’s take the example of Nelson being caught cultivating eight pounds of marijuana. He may be charged with a class A misdemeanor for growing marijuana (which has a possible sentence of 364 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,000) and a class D felony for having eight pounds of marijuana (which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000).
Do You Need A Card To Buy Marijuana In New York?
As of 2021, the possession and use of marijuana (laws) for recreational purposes is illegal in the state of New York. So, there is no card or any form of identification required to buy marijuana in New York, as it is not legal to purchase or possess it for recreational use.
However, if you are a patient with a qualifying condition and you want to purchase marijuana for medicinal use, you will need to register with the state’s medical marijuana program and obtain a certification from a licensed healthcare practitioner. The certification will be used to obtain a registry ID card, which will allow you to purchase marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary.
It’s important to note that the legislation for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use that Governor Cuomo announced in March 2021, has not yet been passed, so the current laws regarding marijuana possession and sale still apply. And even if the legislation passes, it is uncertain if the same process will be followed.
Does New York Accept Out-Of-State Marijuana Cards?
New York’s medical marijuana program does not accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards or certifications. Patients with out-of-state medical marijuana cards or certifications are not able to purchase or possess medical marijuana in the state of New York. However, it is important to note that this is subject to change, and it is always best to check with the relevant state authorities for the most up-to-date information.
It’s also important to note that while some states have legalized marijuana, possession, sale, or use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law and it is against the law to transport marijuana across state lines, even if the destination state has legalized it.
Is It Easy To Get Medical Marijuana In New York?
Medical marijuana (laws) is legal in New York, but the program is highly regulated. Patients must have one of a list of qualifying conditions and must be certified by a registered practitioner in order to obtain a medical marijuana card. Once they have a card, they can purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary that is registered with the state. It may take some time and effort to navigate the process, but it is possible to obtain medical marijuana in New York if you meet the qualifications.