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The COVID outbreak has definitely turned things on its head and this includes the cannabis sector. It may have dealt a blow to a lot of business but when one door closes, another one opens. With the nation grappling with the economic impact of the coronavirus, the government is trying to tap into any revenue stream that it can and for some states, this is the marijuana industry.
In New York, the COVID situation fast-tracked the legalization of recreational cannabis. Last March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed The which legalizes recreational marijuana in his state. The legislation allows adult New Yorkers aged 21 and older to legally possess up to 3 ounces of weed and/or up to 24 grams of concentrates, and cultivate up to 6 plants per person or 12 per household. The new law also established procedures for the automatic review and expungement of low-level marijuana convictions.
The state, which is poised to become one of the biggest marijuana industries in the country, is expected to reinvest millions in taxes into minority communities severely impacted by the decades-long war on drugs.
There are also as many as 8 medical marijuana bills already lined up for this years session.
This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.
Will It Be Legal To Grow Marijuana At Home
Yes. For recreational purposes, users will be allowed to cultivate up to six plants at home, indoors or outdoors, and a maximum of twelve plants total per household. They will not be allowed to do so, however, until 18 months after the first adult-use dispensary opens.
Medical marijuana patients, or their designated caregivers, will also be able to grow the plants, six months from now.
The Feds Are Coming For Delta
Keep in mind that anti-smoking laws ban cigarette use at bus stops, in parks, in schools, and workplaces. Anyone caught smoking weed in these places in New York risks a $25 fine, community serviceand, worst of all, making a scene.
Shoving it down peoples throats is not the move, MaHarry said, laying out the general ethos. You need to have decorum when you do it. Have respect for the people around you.
Okay, what about the bar?
Bars and restaurants have outdoor patios. Smoking cigarettes is banned here, but before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, its extremely common to encounter someone smoking a cigarette in one of these places.
As Spectrum News reported, its not allowed to smoke cannabis at your locals smoking patio or after you finish another fine outdoor dining experience but here, the letter of the law matters less than the spirit of the occasion.
Does it seem okay? Try it out. Are you bothering anyone? Cut it out.
Its about disrupting the space, MaHarry explained. If youre eating a meal, you dont want someone smoking something next to you. It doesnt matter what youre smoking, if the smell is overpowering. Its like blasting music at your dinner table. Youre taking over the space with what youre doing, which is never really cool.
Okay, what about the kids?
Even legal marijuana has been used as a pretext to use the state to punish parents for using cannabis.
Okay, Im too high.
You have got to figure out your limits and then abide by them.
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Legal Adult Use And Possession In Nyc
As of March 31, 2021, it is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use in New York. Adults may smoke or vape cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is allowed under the smoke-free air laws, with a few exceptions.
Cannabis use is not allowed in motor vehicles or in outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Smoking or vaping cannabis in prohibited areas may result in a summons and fine.
It is still against the law for people younger than 21 years old to possess, sell or use any amount of cannabis. Also, no one may legally possess more than three ounces of cannabis, sell any amount without a license or drive while under the influence or impaired by cannabis.
After legal sales begin :
- Adults will be allowed to store up to five pounds of cannabis in their home.
- Adults will be allowed to grow three cannabis plants at home. Homes with more than one adult will be allowed to grow six plants .
- Cities and towns may have on-site consumption areas where people can use cannabis.
It Is Still Not Legal To:
- Sell marijuana without a license. The first licenses will not be issued until 2022.
- Grow your own marijuana. Eventually you will be able to possess up to 5 lbs and grow up to 6 plants in your home, but not until 2023 at the earliest.
- Possess more than the legal amount of marijuana. Possession of more than 3 ounces is a violation. Possession of more than 16 ounces is still a crime.
- Drive under the influence of marijuana.
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Stoned Driving May Or May Not Increase
So far, studies on legalization and stoned driving have had mixed results. Two earlystudies found no significant change in roadway deaths after legalization in Colorado and Washington a third reported a small increase in overall crash rates. Another study found a slight increase in traffic deaths in four early legalized states compared to non-legal states. A comparison of alcohol and cannabis found that drunk drivers were 18 times more likely to cause a fatal crash than sober drivers, while stoned drivers were two times more likely. And two studies found Californias legalization of medical marijuana was linked to a decrease in motor vehicle fatalities. Cannabis use clearly affects driving ability, but so far it hasnt become a major issue perhaps because most consumption still happens at home.
New York State Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Places Limits On Employers Ability To Take Drug Use Into Account When Making Employment Decisions
On March 31st, 2021, New York became the 16th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use with the enactment of Senate Bill S854A. Under the new law, it is legal for individuals 21 and older to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana. At their place of residence, individuals are also permitted to possess up to five pounds of the drug. While the law takes effect immediately, it is expected to take the state as long as two years to fully implement it, including setting up a system to license marijuana retailers. The law also modifies the states existing medical marijuana program, in place since 2014, by expanding the types of medical conditions for which marijuana can be prescribed.
Restrictions on Employers Hiring and Disciplinary Policies
These restrictions build on existing provisions of New Yorks medical marijuana law, which treats a persons status as a certified user of medical marijuana as a disability that employers must accommodate where reasonably possible. See N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 3369. They also come on the heels of a law that took effect in New York City in May 2020, prohibiting employers from testing job applicants for marijuana usage. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107. New York Citys law exempts employers in certain cases, such as where the applicant is being considered for a safety-sensitive position. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107.
Trend in State and Local Laws
Takeaways for Employers
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Ny Airports Will No Longer Seize Marijuana
You can now fly with marijuana in New York State.
Now that marijuana is legal for recreational and medicinal purposes in many states, including New York, TSA and Albany International Airport has changed its rules on the arrest and confiscation of marijuana.
Albany International is not the only airport in the state of New York to adapt to the marijuana changes, as all airports in the state have made the same changes to policies.
As the rules of marijuana are changing, so must the law enforcement procedures at airports.
When a passenger is pat down for security purposes, the agents will no longer be looking to find marijuana, rather, they will look and focus on more threatening objects, such as guns, knives, and even bombs.
A former New York State Police colonel, Bart Johnson, has stated all agents will focus on more dire and crucial offenses. Johnson is also the federal security director of over 15 airports located upstate, including Albany International, and the same policies will go through all airports.
The agents will look for threats including, but not limited to: explosives, guns, and knives, rather than narcotics of any kind.
During many routine pat-downs, an agent might find marijuana on a passenger. As long as the amount of marijuana held is less than three ounces, the officer will give back the marijuana.
These new procedures are far off from the times when officers would arrest any passenger who would carry any amount of marijuana into the airport.
Growing Marijuana In New York
Growing just few plants can be tricky if you are a beginner. If you only grow to plants, you have to be certain at least one survives.
With the plant protector the THC Booster, you can protect and support your plants so that they are able to yield strong marijuana.
You can grow a reasonable amount of potent weed without appearing like a drug dealer.
Keep your grow room efficient if you plan to grow in New York. The Marijuana Grow Bible has all of the information you need for doing just that. Before you plant a single seed, download the book and read it from front to end.
Its now legal to grow marijuana in New York. If you are a patient, or just love smoking weed, growing marijuana in New York doesnt have to make you a criminal. Remember, keep your garden small and your supply out of sight.
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If I Am Arrested Under These New Marijuana Laws What Should I Do
Immediately, call a criminal defense attorney. At the law firm of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience in the prosecution and defense of drug crimes, including marijuana possession and sale. The attorneys are published authors regarding drug crime defense and criminal defense in general.
Contact us today at 840-5104 for a free initial consultation to discuss your rights and options for proceeding forward to protect your rights. In addition, if you are the subject of a CPS investigation call our office as our attorneys are experienced and aggressive CPS defense attorneys and can provide immediate information to protect you and your family.
Teen Use Will Trend Slightly Downward
This was a scary unknown when Colorado and Washington legalized in 2012. Since then, the data on legalization and underage use have been encouraging. A December 2020 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found no evidence that recreational marijuana legalization was associated with increased use among adolescents. Instead, frequency of use declined 16 percent among those who reported consuming in the past month. One year earlier, JAMA Pediatrics found that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes. The reason: Street dealers were replaced by licensed stores that required proof of age.
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Why Did This Take So Long
Mr. Cuomo and Democrats in the State Legislature tried several times to legalize marijuana in recent years. But each time, efforts unraveled.
In 2019, for example, the plan for legalization collapsed as disagreements over how to regulate the industry and how revenue dollars should be controlled, along with hesitation from moderate lawmakers, could not be overcome.
The efforts recently gained momentum, however, when they received a boost amid Mr. Cuomos recent scandals. Striking a deal for legalization became a higher priority for the governor, several lawmakers and lobbyists believe, as he sought to shift attention away from hiscompoundingcrises.
The new dynamic prompted Mr. Cuomos team to concede on many issues they had previously held the line on, such as how the tax revenue would be distributed, leading to a deal that more closely reflected Democratic lawmakers wishes.
New York Medical Marijuana Laws
To qualify for medicinal cannabis, you need to register through the Medical Marijuana Program . Signing-up takes place via a registered practitioner with the Health Department.
Patients with a qualifying medical condition will receive an identification card that entitles them to cannabis from specified dispensaries. They can also appoint up to two carers to receive the marijuana on their behalf.
A caregiver must follow the same process as a patient to receive a registration card. Once theyre approved, theyre free to assist a maximum of four patients in obtaining and administering medical weed.
According to the New York state medical marijuana laws, the following are qualifying conditions to receive cannabis for medicinal use:
- Senile Dementia or Alzheimers disease
- Lou Gehrigs Disease or ALS
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Spastic Colon or IBS
Other conditions may also qualify if a medical practitioner certifies it.
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So I Can Use It But I Cant Buy Or Sell It Yet
Public officials suggest it could take 18 months before recreational marijuana is available in stores but some companies believe sales wont start before December 2022. There is no licensing of legal marijuana being grown or sold yet, hence if you buy it the way you always bought it, its still an illegal product, said Manhattan state Senator Liz Krueger, who wrote the legalization law. There isnt really a penalty for you buying under three ounces but there may still be penalties for selling it.
Is Buying Cannabis Legal In New York
Although purchasing weed is legal in New York, official sales will only begin once final regulations have been put in place. While youre waiting, you could buy marijuana seeds to plant when you get the go-ahead.
At the time of writing, you can only purchase medicinal cannabis. These sales are made at specific weed dispensaries that state-regulated institutions operate.
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What Will Change For Medical Marijuana Patients
The list of medical conditions covered will be significantly widened and will include Alzheimers disease and muscular dystrophy. Patients will no longer be restricted from smoking medical marijuana, and the current 30-day cap on supply for patients will also be doubled.
Medical marijuana companies will be allowed to enter the more lucrative recreational market under certain circumstances, a measure they aggressively lobbied for.
Weed Consumption Rules In New York
For the most part, adults can publicly consume cannabis wherever they can smoke tobacco, including city sidewalks. There are some exceptions to this rule. You cant smoke cannabis in the following tobacco-approved locations:
- Inside a Vehicle
- Pedestrian plazas
The language of the law allows for the establishment of cannabis lounges where consumers can enjoy weed on-site. Such establishments dont exist yet, and regulations governing these types of operations are in development.
The state gives local jurisdictions the discretion to tighten consumption restrictions as they see fit.
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How It Could Impact The Industry
If New York cannabis legalization passes, the state would become the 15th state to legalize cannabis, and the second largest to legalize behind California. Ranking barely third behind Texas in state GDP, the economy of New York is already massive, which would all but guarantee an equally massive legal cannabis industry.
Similar to California, New York also has a thriving illicit market already in operation in the state. Cannabis delivery services are very popular in New York City where anyone can ride their bike across the city to deliver cannabis products. While few other states allow cannabis delivery in their recreational cannabis programs, New York cannabis legalization would likely allow for delivery services to continue, if not thrive under new legal regulation.
California sold the most cannabis in 2020 at $4.4 Billion worth. However in combination with its relatively small medical cannabis industry which generated around $50 million in 2020, a New York legal cannabis industry would generate over $1 Billion by 2024. That would put New York in the top five cannabis markets in just two years of operation.
To say that New York cannabis legalization would make the state a major player with influence on the direction of the industry would be an understatement.
Medical Marijuana Program In New York
New York is home to one of the largest cities in America with a medical marijuana program.
Their program, like the state, is expansive and covers a large variety of conditions.
New York patients with cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntingtons disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Lou Gehrigs disease, Parkinsons disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathies and Spinal cord damage can use marijuana to treat their disease, making legal marijuana a possibility in New York.
Unfortunately, New York only allows marijuana in the extract and pill form. They have ignored the benefits of the whole plant.
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Whereas the medical marijuana program does not allow patients to grow marijuana in New York, recreational growing legalized on March 31, 2021. Now there are no penalties for possessing less than 24 grams. Adults may also grow up to six plants .
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