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Despite Legalization, You Can Be Arrested for Marijuana Crimes

New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The Empire State is now among 18 states that have passed laws in the past 10 years allowing recreational marijuana.

Like medical marijuana (medical marijuana has been legal in New York since 2014), there are restrictions on recreational pot. New Yorkers are limited on how much marijuana they can possess or grow.

If you possess or grow more cannabis than is legally allowed, you can face criminal drug charges. Public smoking in a banned location is subject to a civil fine and community service.

Limitations on Legal Marijuana Possession

New Yorkers can legally possess marijuana, but they are limited on how much they can have on them.

Legal marijuana possession includes the following:

  • 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use
  • 24 grams of concentrated cannabis (oils, tinctures, vapes, edibles)
  • 5 pounds can be stored at home in a secure place

Limitations on Marijuana Plants for Personal Use

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) allows eligible individuals to grow marijuana plants for personal use. Those meeting the minimum age of 21 can grow up to six plants (three mature and three immature) in their home for personal use and up to 12 plants (six mature and six immature) for household use – even if there are three or more adults in the house.

Other Restrictions Placed on Adult-Use Cannabis

Smoking weed will be prohibited any place tobacco smoking is banned. Landlords and other property owners can prohibit the use of cannabis on their premises. Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, you can’t use it in national parks, forests, or other federal lands.

Additional regulations include the following:

  • Cannabis plants cannot be accessible to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Home-grown plants cannot be sold to anyone.
  • It is illegal to use butane, propane, or alcohol to make cannabis hash oil or concentrates.
  • Local municipalities can enact and enforce their own regulations though they cannot completely prohibit the practice.
  • Employers can ban marijuana impairment at work.
  • Smoking cannabis inside a car is illegal.
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal.

MRTA Restricts Where Marijuana Can Be Purchased

While MRTA legalizes marijuana use for those 21 years and older, you cannot legally buy marijuana at the street corner. Only purchases made at licensed dispensaries are considered legal. The first dispensaries will be licensed in 2022, once regulations and licensing processes have been confirmed. Dispensaries may not be ready to open before 2023.

OCM will license all aspects of the cannabis chain: cultivators, processors, distributors, and dispensaries. Consumers will be protected by lab testing and labeling requirements. MRTA specified that OCM will have its main office in Albany with branches in New York City and Buffalo.

Some Communities Won’t Allow Dispensaries & Lounges

Municipalities have until Dec. 31, 2021, to opt out of permitting dispensaries and on-premises consumption lounges. According to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), about 35% of New York’s municipalities (cities, towns, and villages) have opted out of allowing marijuana dispensaries and/or lounges within its jurisdictions. The Rockefeller Institute of Government is tracking which jurisdictions will and will not allow dispensaries and/or consumption lounges.

Seasoned Lawyers for Marijuana & Cannabis Defense

New York law has loosened its stance on recreational and medical marijuana, but the law still allows for serious penalties. Those who use, share, grow, or sell cannabis outside of what is allowed can face life-changing consequences that can affect every aspect of their life: relationships, work, and education.

Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC is dedicated to aggressively defending our clients in Long Island and the New York metropolitan area. We have extensive experience and skills in navigating New York’s judicial system. Our goal is to help our clients avoid serious penalties and get back to their life. No matter how complex the case is, we are ready to stand beside you from arrest to the case’s resolution.

If you are arrested on a marijuana crime, contact our attorneys at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC. We have a deep understanding of New York’s criminal statutes. Call (516) 218-5131 to schedule a free initial consultation.