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Is It Legal to Smoke Marijuana in Public in New York?

The recent opening of the first legal recreational cannabis dispensary in New York made headlines late last month.

The New York Times reports that Governor Kathy Hochul has predicted that 20 stores will open by the end of 2023. As legal recreational marijuana becomes more widely available, you may be wondering where people are legally permitted to smoke Marijuana in New York.

Marijuana Use Dos and Don’ts

As of 2021, smoking pot in public is legal in New York. For the most part, the new law treats public marijuana use like cigarette smoking, a unique aspect of New York’s marijuana legislation that distinguishes it from legalization efforts in other states.

Law enforcement in New York have been told that smoking marijuana in public is no longer a legal basis for approaching, stopping, summoning, arresting, or searching an individual, and police are no longer able to use the odor of marijuana as a reason to stop and search a vehicle.

While it is legal to consume marijuana products in public in New York, it is important to be aware of some important dos and don’ts when it comes to marijuana if you want to avoid breaking the law:


  • Be over 21 to use or possess marijuana products
  • Consume marijuana in a private home, if you have permission from owner
  • Consume marijuana in most places where cigarettes are legal, including on public streets
  • Share with other adults over age 21 without renumeration or any exchange of services


  • Possess over 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates (edibles, oils)
  • Cross state lines with marijuana products
  • Distribute or sell cannabis without a license
  • Drive under the influence of cannabis
  • Consume cannabis in a car
  • Consume marijuana in a private business (including restaurant patios)
  • Consume marijuana on federal property, including National Parks
  • Consume marijuana in any New York State Park or other public outdoor spaces

As of October 2022, smoking either marijuana or tobacco in New York State Parks and other public outdoor spaces is illegal. However, no criminal charges can be brought for doing so. Instead, you will be subject to a $25 civil fine and up to 20 hours of community service.

It is also important to be cognizant that despite recent changes to marijuana laws in New York, certain drug offenses still carry serious penalties. Possessing quantities of cannabis above the legal level of 3 ounces or 24 grams, depending on the form of the product, or selling any amount of marijuana without a license can result in misdemeanor or even felony charges.

If you are facing charges for misdemeanor or felony drug charges, including for marijuana, you need an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney on your side. At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the criminal justice system and helping them work toward the best possible result.

Contact us online or call us at (516) 218-5131 to schedule a consultation today.