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New York Cannabis Laws

New York Cannabis Laws

While the use of marijuana is still illegal at the US federal level, many states have implemented their own medical marijuana programs, and some have even legalized the recreational use and sale of the plant. New York has a medical program and has decriminalized recreational use, but hasn’t fully legalized yet. New York has a complex set of drug laws made of varying provisions separating medicinal and recreational use. 


With more than one million New Yorkers currently using cannabis and the demand increasing every day, this murky time while we await full marijuana legalization provides a great opportunity for businesses to strengthen their plan of action. 


Here’s everything you need to know about the current 2020 state of New York cannabis laws:


Current medical cannabis laws & statewide regulations

In July 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature enacted the Compassionate Care Act New York to create the state’s medical marijuana program. This law made medicinal use available for the treatment of select medical conditions, while recreational use within the state was still illegal. 


Now, thanks to recent legislation, recreational use has been decriminalized, while the medical marijuana program still remains as the legal channel for obtaining cannabis products. 


Current cannabis criminal laws 

For medicinal use, patients can access cannabis through the New York State Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program. For recreational use, there are no legal channels to purchase the flower, but getting caught possessing cannabis has been decriminalized. 


Here are the main points of the new bill that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed in 2019:

  • Possessing up to an ounce is a civil violation that incurs fines of no more than 50 dollars but no jail time

  • Possessing between 1 - 2 ounces is a civil violation punishable by not more than 200 dollars

  • Possessing between 2 - 8 ounces may get up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine

  • Possessing between 8 ounces up to ten pounds can get 1 -7 years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine, with mandatory prison time for second offenses

  • Possessing ten pounds or more can get 1-15 years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine, with mandatory prison time for second offenses

  • Selling up to two ounces without payment can get up to three months in jail and/or up to a $500 fine

  • Cultivating or selling up to 24 grams can get up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine

  • Selling 25 grams to four ounces can get 1-4 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine

  • Selling 4 to 16 ounces can get 1-7 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine

  • Selling 16 ounces or more can get 1-15 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine

  • Selling any amount to a minor can get 1-7 years in jail and/or up to $5,000 fine

  • People who have been previously convicted of possessing small amounts of cannabis can expunge their records


Dispensary operation laws

New York allows only twenty medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the state. Those facilities are able to prescribe non-smokable alternatives of cannabis consumption, such as tinctures and edibles, to people with cancer, glaucoma, or other approved ailments on the state list. 


Dispensing facilities have to:

  • Maintain a visitor log of everyone who accesses the facility 

  • Sell only state-approved marijuana products

  • Allow medical marijuana products to only be dispensed or handled by an individual with an active New York State pharmacist license

  • Dispense no more than a 30 day supply to a certified patient, and not until the patient has exhausted all but a seven day supply provided pursuant to any previously dispensed medical marihuana product by any registered organization


Grower operation laws 

Currently, farmers can’t grow the plant in New York. Growing is illegal, but it has been decriminalized. Cultivating or selling up to 24 grams can get you up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine. Farmers are very eager for New York to legalize marijuana so that they can grow the crop and cash in on the estimated billion dollar industry!  

Though the current web of New York cannabis laws can be confusing, it’s worth it to navigate so you are ready to become a competitive player in the game when the state finally does fully legalize. Now is an ideal time to start a business in this field, with Cuomo promising New York will legalize marijuana in 2020.

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