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New York just legalized marijuana: What does that mean?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

On March 31, New York became the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana.

But what exactly does that mean? Because marijuana laws are changing state-by-state, you need to have a careful understanding of the rules to avoid legal problems.

What’s legal and what’s not when it comes to cannabis in New York

Senate Bill 5854A not only legalized recreational marijuana, it also expanded the use of medical marijuana in the state. What it did not do, however, was entirely clarify exactly how the legal marijuana industry will be regulated. Much of that will be left up the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board.

Here are the highlights:

  • Anyone over 21 years of age may legally buy and possess up to three ounces of marijuana flower or 24 ounces of contracted cannabis (edibles, dabs, oils) on their person.
  • Adults can have up to five pounds of marijuana in their homes, so long as the cannabis is properly secured.
  • Smoking marijuana in public is generally legal anywhere you are allowed to smoke tobacco but never in a car, at a workplace or in a school (even universities).

It’s also important to note that (with the exception of medical marijuana patients) it isn’t possible to legally buy marijuana yet. Recreational dispensaries are probably not going to open for another year or two because of the complex licensing issues involved.

Marijuana is still a regulated drug

Does that mean that you can’t get arrested for marijuana in New York now? Absolutely not. You can still get busted for possessing too much of the drug at one time. You can get busted for selling the drug illegally — even just to friends. And, of course, it’s still not legal to cultivate  marijuana plants at home. Last but not least, marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, which adds another layer of complexity to any legal issues.

If you’re facing charges over a marijuana-related crime, it’s more essential than ever to have good guidance. Speak with an experienced defense attorney today.