Many states throughout the country have legalized medical and recreational marijuana. Although the Compassionate Care Act established the medicinal marijuana program in New York in 2014, recreational cannabis is still against the law in the state.
Fortunately, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law at the end of July 2019, which further decriminalizes possession of marijuana. This blog post is an overview of the most frequently answered questions about marijuana laws in New York.
Question: Who can use medical marijuana in New York?
Answer: Patients who are eligible for the medical marijuana program have been diagnosed with a certain serious, debilitating, or life-threatening medical condition. A registered doctor must certify eligible individuals for the program.
The following are the qualifying conditions for the New York medical marijuana program:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Spinal cord damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorder
- Opioid alternative for pain that degrades functional and health capability
- Chronic or severe pain
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Persistent or severe muscle spasms
Q: Where can a medical marijuana patient purchase medicine?
A: Once a medical marijuana patient registers with the Department of Health (DOH) and obtains certification, they can buy medical marijuana products from dispensing facilities run by Registered Organizations (RO) in the state of New York.
Q: What types of medical marijuana products can patients purchase at dispensaries?
A: Oils, vape pens and cartridges, tablets, capsules, as well as oral powders and sprays. Smokable medical marijuana (also known as “flower”) and edibles are prohibited.
Q: How many marijuana products can a patient possess?
A: Qualified patients can possess up to 30 days’ worth of medical marijuana products.
Q: What are the penalties for recreational marijuana possession in New York?
A: When the new law took effect on August 28, 2019, possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) of cannabis is punishable by a maximum $50 fine. Possession of between one and less than two ounces of pot carries a fine of up to $200.
Possession of between two ounces and less than eight ounces is a misdemeanor offense, which results in a maximum one-year jail term and a fine no more than $1,000. Possession of between eight ounces and less than one pound is a felony offense, punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Q: What happens to past convictions of marijuana possession after the new law passed?
A: Most past convictions for cannabis possession of 25 grams or less will be automatically expunged. The state is currently working on expunging criminal records of individuals convicted of possessing less than two ounces.
Q: What happens if I’m arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in New York?
A: If you are caught operating a vehicle in New York while under the influence of cannabis, you could be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). A first-time DWAI offense carries the same penalties as a first-time driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense, which is punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence, driver’s license revocation for at least six months, and a fine no more than $1,000.