New York is a state that has been known for its progressive views on marijuana legalization. The Empire State first decriminalized the possession of small amounts in 1977. It was followed by other states, including Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, California, and Colorado.
But does this mean you can get high legally in New York? First, let’s look at some of the laws surrounding pot smoking in Upstate NY.
We’ve made progress in legalizing drugs within America, but things are changing rapidly as more states support drug usage reform.
While many people associate cannabis with illegal activity, there have also been several notable instances where legalized substances such as medical marijuana or CBD oil were confiscated from citizens who had no intentions of harming others.
Last year, one example occurred when dozens of individuals were arrested after police raided an unlicensed dispensary Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA. This raid came amid nationwide protests against government corruption which began after the killing of Oscar Grant III, an unarmed Black man killed while waiting for BART train tickets in 2009.
Police used tear gas on protesters and subsequently detained over 100 suspected members of “Operation Green Sweep,” — a task force to shut down dispensaries that sell unregulated medicinal products. Another major event occurred this month when U.S. Customs agents seized $1 million worth of CBD oil imported from abroad into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
According to reports, customs officials said they intended to destroy all product samples because it wasn’t classified under any controlled substance category. However, one week later, LAX announced plans to allow passengers to bring up to 3 ounces (84 grams) of CBD oil if they travel internationally.
So how did these events affect marijuana legislation within the United States? Let’s start by looking at what happened in New York from 2012 to 2013. Back then, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law allowing residents 21 years old and older to possess limited quantities of recreational marijuana for personal use.
Although it became effective immediately following the governor’s signature, the new law didn’t go into effect until early 2014. As far back as 2008, voters in Albany approved a proposal to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Yes, marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in New York. In 2021, New York lawmakers passed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. Under the new law, adults can possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to three mature and three immature plants for personal use. The law also establishes a regulated cannabis market, with licensed businesses allowed to cultivate, process, distribute, and sell cannabis products. In addition, the state’s medical marijuana program has been expanded, allowing for more patients to access medical cannabis with a recommendation from a licensed physician. However, it is important to note that there are still restrictions on where and when marijuana can be consumed, and driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.
Since laws keep changing rapidly, making things a bit confusing sometimes, check out our friends at DISA to see a complete map of every state. They have information on what is legal, medical use, recreational use, and everything else.
Like most cities around the country, folks living in New York find themselves subject to local ordinances regarding their behavior. And although many places don’t typically pass strict regulations governing activities such as public nudity, gambling, or even prostitution, New Yorkers aren’t exactly alone in terms of being targeted by authorities.
For instance, between 2010 and 2013, federal agencies conducted nearly 400 raids targeting those accused of selling marijuana worldwide. At least two Americans died during these operations.
These incidents often left people injured, broke, and disillusioned about life. Since 2011, however, President Barack Obama’s administration has changed its stance on enforcing federal anti-pot policies. Instead of arresting anyone caught using marijuana, federal officers now focus on prosecuting people who produce large volumes of the plant without paying taxes. Consequently, marijuana growers face lengthy prison sentences, fines, and possible deportation.
In response to this shift in policy, New York lawmakers worked tirelessly to draft a bill that would decriminalize low-level marijuana offenses and make it easier for patients suffering from certain diseases to obtain cannabis medicine.
On July 9th, 2015, Gov. Cuomo officially signed S7265A/B — better known as the Cannabis Regulation Act — into law, making New York the 11th state to legalize the consumption of cannabis fully.
The act allows adults ages 18 through 64 to purchase and consume cannabis products in private residences. It also gives doctors across the state permission to prescribe the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, to qualifying patients if recommended by a licensed health care professional.
Patients will also have access to edible forms of cannabis if they have epilepsy, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease. Additionally, qualified patients will receive free treatment from designated clinics. A similar program exists in Canada.
While proponents argue that the new law makes New York safer than neighboring areas where marijuana remains illegal, critics say further reforms need to be enacted to ensure equal rights for everyone involved. In addition, although the measure’s goal was to prevent racial profiling among minorities, recent studies suggest otherwise.
One survey found that black men were four times more likely to be pulled over for traffic violations than white drivers [Source: NPR]. Also, some believe that the age restriction — set at 25 — unfairly targets young minority generations. Critics claim that the proposed limit doesn’t apply to other narcotics such as alcohol, tobacco, or cocaine regularly consumed by underage youth.
Lastly, opponents worry that the regulation will lead to increased addiction rates. To combat these concerns, advocates propose raising the minimum age requirement to buy cigarettes, cigars, or hard liquor from 19 to 20.
Medical Marijuana Laws
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed his Marijuana Regulation Act, he still felt compelled to veto a separate piece of legislation related to medical marijuana. Earlier this summer, he shot down Senate Bill S6903A, a part of legislation authored by Sen. Diane Savino that sought to expand the number of ailments that qualify someone to partake in regulated cannabis treatments.
Currently, 29 states permit the use of medicinal marijuana for specific conditions, whereas eight states already give out licenses for commercial production. In addition, under the current rules, patients must visit physicians every three months to renew their prescriptions.
With the approval of S6903A, however, patients could seek help once per year instead. Supporters of the bill argued that this plan would reduce wait times while easing the strain on overcrowded hospitals. Opponents countered that marijuana tends to work faster, leading to fewer side effects.
They added that the initiative might encourage stoners to smoke more frequently, potentially harming their lungs and brains. Regardless, the bill never went into effect due to opposition from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
If you’d like to know whether marijuana is currently allowed in your area, head to the Compassionate Care Foundation website. You can locate information about each city’s approach to legalization by typing in your zip code.
After selecting your region, click on the green-labeled Medical Use of Potent Purposes. You’ll discover which types of illnesses fall under the umbrella term “medical marijuana.”
For instance, according to the foundation, San Francisco permits the use of marijuana for treating nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, and seizures associated with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.), glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, cachexia, wasting syndrome, anxiety disorder, depression, Tourette Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, arthritis, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, chronic cough, hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 1 and 2, Huntington’s chorea, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, autoimmune disorders, endometriosis, cancers, lymphomas, leukemias, nervous system tumors, sickle cell anemia, hepatitis C, herpes simplex virus infections, human immunodeficiency virus infection, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, skin ulcers, osteoporosis, menstrual cramps, hyperhidrosis, and seizures. In addition, some jurisdictions exempt caregivers from criminal penalties for providing marijuana to eligible patients if they follow stringent guidelines.
On the flip side, Florida prohibits the use of medicinal marijuana for almost everything except severe epileptic seizures. Other states include Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Only Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana don’t have any form of legalized marijuana.
As for New York City, marijuana has always been considered contraband here. So if you want to smoke it, you’ll probably have to sneak off to a secluded spot outside the five boroughs.
You can check out the status of marijuana legalization in your municipality right here.
Another interesting takeaway from the study mentioned above is that males are more prone to driving under the influence of cannabinoids than females. Researchers suspect that women experience more significant impairment based on lower blood flow to the brain, slower reaction times, and a higher likelihood of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Cbd Oil Possession
With the passage of the Marijuana Regulation Act, New York joined Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in allowing the sale of medical marijuana for therapeutic uses.
Moreover, residents in these states can grow up to 12 plants apiece. Suppose you happen to reside in one of these locations. Remember to keep track of your harvest to avoid getting busted by federal agents.