Seven Things to Know About New York’s Marijuana Legalization Law

This past April, New York passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which made marijuana legal to purchase, sell, and possess within the state. In addition, the law also expunged many criminal sentences for possession of the drug. However, that does not mean that it is now a free-for-all when it comes to pot in New York, and there are certain regulations New Yorkers should be wary of. Here are seven things you should know about marijuana legalization in New York:

  1. You need to be 21 or older
    • While marijuana is legal to purchase and possess, you need to be over 21 to do so, the same as purchasing alcohol. You will need to have legal identification showing your age, which you must provide to a seller before purchase. Just like with buying alcohol or cigarettes, a dispensary that sells marijuana to someone underage may find themselves in trouble.
  2. You can only legally carry a certain amount
    • The MRTA states that people may legally carry up to three ounces of marijuana at any given time, or up to 24 grams of “concentrated cannabis” (such as cannabis oil). While this may be more than enough for most people, anyone who is purchasing the drug for personal use needs to be cautious. If you possess more than the legally permitted amount, you could face legal consequences.
  3. There are some places you cannot smoke
    • By default, you cannot smoke marijuana in any place where it would not be legal to smoke a cigarette. In addition, public parks, pools, and beaches are off limits, as are schools, restaurants, bars, and trains and subway cars. In addition, landlords are free to ban smoking pot within their buildings, and can put provisions prohibiting marijuana use in their lease agreements.
  4. You will need to be licensed to legally sell marijuana
    • While legalization is technically in effect, there are currently no regulations in place for the legal sale of pot. Anyone who wants to legally sell marijuana, including cannabis oil and other similar products, must obtain a license from the newly formed Office of Cannabis Management. Selling without a license is illegal, and may result in legal penalties for anyone caught doing so.
  5. Business owners can permit or prohibit pot smoking
    • While marijuana can be smoked indoors in certain locations, business owners are free to limit or prohibit use of the drug on their premises (with certain exceptions). In addition, there are rules governing the use of marijuana products in the same locations where it is sold. Anyone who wants to allow the use of marijuana in the same location where it is sold will need to apply for a separate permit.
  6. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal
    • While marijuana legalization means that you can buy and possess marijuana for personal use, that does not mean that you are excluded from laws about driving under the influence (DUI). The smell of pot smoke may not be enough to justify a traffic stop, but combined with other behaviors, it could lead to an arrest for DUI. Thus, if you intend to partake in marijuana products, treat it similarly as when you go out drinking, and ensure you have a designated driver to avoid legal trouble.
  7. Individual municipalities may have their own rules
    • Marijuana legalization covers the state of New York, but individual municipalities have been given the authority to restrict its use within their own borders. This means that different cities, towns, and villages may have different rules about when and where it can be used. That is why, if you are concerned about issues related to marijuana legalization, you should speak to a lawyer with knowledge of criminal law, who can help you understand the implications of the new law.

Fox Law Firm, PLLC is a New York traffic and criminal law practice serving clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. With more than three decades of law practice experience, attorney Dan Fox has helped clients in traffic and criminal cases defend themselves and protect their rights. For more information or to ask for a consultation, call our Riverhead office at 631-779-3400 or visit our contact page.

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