New York Legalized Cannabis


At the end of March 2021, New York legalized adult-use cannabis, becoming the fifteenth state to allow the plant’s recreational use. This was almost six years after medical cannabis became legal in the state. So, what does this mean? New Yorkers who are twenty-one years of age and older can now possess up to three ounces of cannabis, smoke herb where tobacco smoking is permitted, and buy cannabis in brick-and-mortar dispensaries and through cannabis delivery services. If you're interested to learn more about CBD, which often falls under a different set of laws than THC heavy cannabis strains, you might find the following articles interesting:

Here are some things to know about the legalization of cannabis in New York:

What Does Legalization Mean for New Yorkers?

New Yorkers who are at least twenty-one years old are allowed to use and consume cannabis products recreationally. They can possess up to three ounces of cannabis (that’s about fifty to seventy-five joints) and twenty-four grams of cannabis concentrate (such as oils) for recreational use. In their homes, they can store up to five pounds of cannabis, given that the products are properly stored. There are still some restrictions on smoking in public and private spaces where secondhand smoke can occur. Relevant to this, it is believed that smoking near pregnant women can be dangerous, given the studies around cannabis and pregnancy.

Can the Police Still Arrest You?

The police can’t arrest anyone for carrying a small amount of cannabis. People with certain marijuana-related convictions can also have their records expunged. That said, driving under the influence of cannabis is still illegal and anyone suspected of doing so can be pulled over for impaired driving. Additionally, until licenses for selling are formally distributed, most cannabis selling activities may result in sanctions. Even though recreational cannabis is legal in seventeen states, it’s still illegal to transport it across state lines. So if you would buy cannabis in Las Vegas, as permitted by Nevada cannabis laws, it’s not a good idea to bring it back to New York.

How Does It Affect Medical Cannabis Users?

New York’s current medical marijuana program will become less restrictive and additional medical conditions will be covered going forward. Medical cannabis users can now also smoke recreational cannabis, and their supply cap will be doubled.

Where Is Cannabis Allowed?

Cannabis can be legally smoked wherever tobacco smoking is allowed. People can smoke herb in most public spaces, though not in schools and workplaces. You can also smoke in a private residence, as long as the landlord permits it; the same is true for hotels and motels. That said, as more regulations are added, the risks of cannabis smoking may lead to a reduction in places where cannabis can be publicly consumed.

Smoking publicly where it’s prohibited will subject those caught to a civil penalty of $25 or up to twenty hours of community service.

Where Can I Buy Cannabis?

You can legally buy cannabis through licensed growers, distributors, and retailers, which paves the way for brick-and-mortar dispensaries to set up shop. The new legislation also allows for the creation of consumption sites (e.g. lounges and hookah bars, as long as alcohol isn’t being sold on the premises). Additionally, cannabis delivery services will be permitted, allowing people to order their cannabis products from home.

However, New York still hasn’t established regulations on licensing the sale of cannabis for recreational use, so people might not be able to purchase cannabis legally until 2022. For now, locals can only buy cannabis with a prescription at different medical cannabis dispensaries in the state. From these locations, you can buy some oils, ointments, pills, powders, vaporizers, and edibles, though the range of products is still limited.

Can I Grow Cannabis at Home?

Locals will be allowed to cultivate cannabis at home — but not yet. New Yorkers must wait eighteen months after the first adult-use dispensary opens before they can put their green thumbs to work. Until more details about cultivating and selling seedlings and plants are clarified, doing so is still risky. Once the regulations are set, however, the law permits people to grow up to six cannabis plants (three mature and three seedlings) if they live alone, and up to twelve plants per household if they live with another adult.

Why Legalize Cannabis Now?

New York spent years trying to legalize the medical use of cannabis, while at the same time criminalizing the recreational consumption of the plant. Pushes for legalization had been stalled by half-hearted efforts and failed attempts. Legalizing it now opens the state to a multibillion-dollar industry and will provide job opportunities for many locals. It also signals a general acceptance of the benefits of cannabis use, making it more accessible to those who need it for medical treatment.


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