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New York is Now Recreational

ny marijuana laws

Is recreational weed legal in New York? New Yorkers have been able to purchase medical cannabis since 2014, but recreational weed only became legal recently. 

Recently Housing Works, a non-profit organization providing HIV/AIDS services, was one of 36 organizations approved by the Cannabis Control Board to dispense recreational cannabis. It opened a dispensary of 4,400 square feet in Manhattan in December 2022. The opening marked a pivot from the state criminalizing marijuana for decades to the start of a legal industry that could generate billions in the future. 


Previous efforts to legalize NY recreational weed

Asking the question, “Is recreational weed legal in New York?” would have been answered in the negative only a short time ago. There were many efforts to legalize it, which failed. In 2019 plans for legalization failed over disagreements on how to regulate the industry and control revenue dollars. Efforts gained momentum in the following months. Eventually, Governor Cuomo’s team had to concede on various fronts, such as how to distribute the tax revenue, in order for legalization to happen. 


The bill is signed

In March 2021, Cuomo signed a bill that allowed recreational marijuana use across New York state by adults of 21 years and older. The first few licenses took a few months to be awarded. The state wanted to award them to candidates who give back to the community or were directly affected by the war on drugs. 


 How will legalization affect New Yorkers?

  • New Yorkers can now be in possession of up to 3 oz of weed and up to 24 g of concentrated cannabis for their personal use. 
  • Adults can grow 3 cannabis plants at home. Where there is more than one adult in the home, they can grow 6 plants, 3 of which are mature and 3 immature. 
  • At home, people can store up to 5 pounds of cannabis as long as they take reasonable steps to store it in a secure place.
  • People 21 and older can use cannabis products and give them to others who meet the same age requirement. 
  • Patrons must show identification to buy cannabis at a dispensary.
  • People with low-level marijuana-related convictions for activities that are now legal will have their records expunged. 


Where can you smoke marijuana in New York?

New Yorkers can smoke recreational weed in public in the same places where tobacco smoking is legal. It is not permitted in workplaces, schools or inside cars. Officers can’t stop and search pedestrians if they smell cannabis. 

It is legal to smoke cannabis in private residences unless a landlord does not permit it. The same applies to hotels and motels. When regulations are in place, club-like lounges will become consumption sites for smoking cannabis. Some municipalities may opt out of allowing them. 

It is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Police are allowed to pull over drivers who they believe may be impaired, although it may be difficult to determine this. They can only search the part of the car that’s easily accessible to the driver and not the trunk. 

Penalties range from violations to felonies. Selling without a license or possessing more than the permitted amount violates the law. The penalty for smoking publically where it isn’t permitted is up to $25 or up to 20 hours of community service.


Where can you buy recreational weed in New York?

Where can you buy recreational weed in New York? Adults are allowed to buy cannabis products at licensed retailers. Retail licenses are issued by the state to brick-and-mortar dispensaries. Consumption at dispensaries is limited to those with an on-site consumption license. New York State will also issue licenses for cannabis delivery businesses that deliver cannabis to people’s homes.

An additional 139 licenses are expected to be issued by the state, and more openings will be a boon to the state economy. The opening of the first legal dispensary was a step in the right direction and a new chapter for those most impacted by failed past policies. 

The legal cannabis industry in New York can help with the creation of new jobs and increase state and local tax revenue. It can also build wealth in communities that were historically underserved.

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