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New York State’s New Marihuana Laws

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Is Recreational Marihuana Use Legal in NYS?

Yes – As of 3/31/21, recreational use of marihuana is legal for adults who are 21 years old or older. This includes possessing, ingesting, or smoking the substance. They may also share the substance with other individuals who are 21 years old or older.

How Much Can You Possess?

Adults may possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis such as oil. They can possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis at home if reasonable steps are taken to ensure the substance is stored in a secure place.

What About Selling Marihuana?

It is currently still illegal to sell marihuana. However, the law does provide for future licensing and regulation of dispensaries and delivery services to sell marihuana.  Due to extremely high demand, this office is not currently accepting new clients seeking to open a marihuana dispensary business, but you should seek out the advice of an attorney if you are interested in getting further information.

Where is Marihuana Use Allowed?

People are legally allowed to smoke marihuana in public anywhere that tobacco smoking is currently legal. Smoking marihuana is NOT permitted in workplaces, schools, or vehicles. You can use marihuana in most private residences unless the landlord specifically prohibits it.

How Does this Law Effect Police Stops and Searches?

Police may not use the smell of marihuana alone as justification to stop and search a pedestrian on the street or to enter and search a person’s home. The smell of burnt marihuana in a car may justify the search of the immediate area reachable by the driver but would not permit a full-blown search of the vehicle.

Is it Against the Law to Drive on Marihuana?

Yes. The law still prohibits smoking while driving and driving a vehicle while under the influence of marihuana. Driving under the influence is a misdemeanor criminal offense. This could be elevated to a felony if an accident results causing injury or death, the driver has a prior conviction within 10 years, or if the driver’s license is suspended or revoked.

Law enforcement does not currently have an instrument to measure the level of marihuana in someone’s system the same way a breathalyzer can be used to detect alcohol. However, more and more officers are being trained in techniques to detect if someone is under the influence of marihuana or other drugs.

It should also be noted that it is illegal to drive under the combined influence of marihuana and alcohol. Even drinking one beer and smoking a small amount of marihuana together can result in the driver being impaired under the law.

What About Those with Marihuana Convictions Already?

Under the new law, certain individuals with low-level marihuana convictions or infractions should have their prior record expunged automatically. Persons with felony level marihuana convictions, or convictions for other types of drugs, may be eligible for sealing their records under other provisions of the law.