5 Common Questions Asked About New York Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana is becoming more widely accepted and legalized throughout the United States and beyond. But even if you live somewhere where weed is legal, the rules surrounding the consumption of marijuana are still a little gray—especially somewhere like New York where weed is only legal medically. If you’re living in the state and want to get your hands on some New York marijuana, you’ve probably got a few burning questions. Here are five of the most common questions surrounding legalization, and the answers you’re looking for.
1. Can I Smoke Weed Recreationally in New York?
As it stands right now, marijuana is only legal medically in New York. In fact, the sale of any smokable form of weed (bud, shatter, hash, etc.) is completely off the table. Medical marijuana resellers only sell edible or ingestible forms of weed, like tinctures and THC pills.
This means not only can you not smoke weed recreationally in New York, but you can’t smoke it medically, either.
The push to get weed legalized recreationally in the state is definitely there, and the issue has been put to vote before, but acceptable terms have still not been met. For now, weed is restricted to those with medical cards and sold by those who the government deems appropriate.
2. Can I Still Get Arrested for Carrying Marijuana in New York?
The simple answer to this one is yes, you can still get arrested for carrying and smoking marijuana in New York. Weed is still considered a Class I drug in New York, meaning by definition that it is an addictive substance with no medical value. This may not make much sense seeing as it’s legal for medical use, but that’s the law for you.
Weed was decriminalized in New York in 2019, but that’s not the same as being legal. With decriminalization, you can carry some weed around with you and feel safe from “stop and frisk” type situations, but if you get caught smoking it, growing it, or selling it, you’re going to have a bad time.
Decriminalization also makes the punishments less severe for those caught with weed, meaning if you’re caught with less than two ounces it’s now a violation rather than a misdemeanor. It’s not great, but it’s something.
3. Can I Buy & Sell CBD Products?
CBD products can be found across New York, from corner stores to supermarkets and beyond, but are they legal? The short answer is no, as confirmed by an FDA statement in 2019. The state recently started cracking down on the sale of CBD products, doling out fines to anyone found selling them in their stores.
CBD is derived from weed, so it makes sense that the state would still consider this illegal to sell. They claim to be working on regulations surrounding CBD sales currently, but there’s no concrete timeline for when these might be implemented. They probably want to do more research on the compound before making it widely available, and probably want to roll it out whenever weed finally becomes recreationally legal in New York.
Hemp has a similar status in New York. It was recently approved for growth on a commercial scale, but citizens are not allowed to grow it in their own homes as it is a product of the marijuana plant. These rules go to show that New York still has some pretty important steps to take in legalizing marijuana and its related products.
4. If New York Marijuana Laws Change, Who Can Grow and Sell Weed?
Governor Cuomo has previously said in his proposal for recreational cannabis legalization that he create an Office of Cannabis Management to deal with all weed-related issues in the state. This includes issuing licenses to people who want to produce and distribute weed in the state. So, the likely answer is that you will not just be able to sell weed right out of the gate without getting licensed.
Other places where weed has been legalized allow people to grow anywhere between four and six plants from the comfort of their homes, but these laws vary from place to place. Washington, for example, only allows you to grow if you’re a medical patient. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t sell your own homegrown weed—it’s for personal use only.
There’s no concrete answer for this one, but most likely you will be able to grow a few plants once legalization finally comes around. Here’s hoping they also make it a little easier to open up a dispensary.
5. What Happens to People With Prior Marijuana Convictions?
With the implementation of medical marijuana laws, New York decided to overturn a select number of past convictions for marijuana. This does not apply to all marijuana convictions, just those on the lower end of the spectrum, like the ones doled out for carrying under two ounces of weed. In April of 2019, the City Council said they wanted to excuse all misdemeanor marijuana charges, and many have been released due to this.
This is a good step for New York, but of course, it takes time. There are still some people in prison for their misdemeanor marijuana charges, but as the legal process carries on, more and more are being released in the state of New York. If full legalization does occur, it can be assumed that people imprisoned for more “serious” marijuana-related charges will also be released back into the public.
New York marijuana laws are still very restrictive, even towards medical patients. It’s good to see that they’re continuing to make strives towards legalization and that many in the state are itching for full legalization rather than just decriminalization. Hopefully, some of your questions have been answered here, and you’re left more informed about marijuana use in New York and why we need to keep pushing for further law changes.
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