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Is marijuana legal in New York?

Marijuana laws vary widely between different states, and in many cases, state laws do not match the existing federal regulations related to this particular drug. As a New York resident, you may be uncertain what your rights are in terms of possessing marijuana for medical or recreational use. While recent changes to state law have decriminalized recreational marijuana, it is important to understand that possessing this substance may still put you in danger of facing state fines and/or federal drug charges.

While the federal regulations governing marijuana’s status as a controlled substance remain static, many states have changed their laws regarding this drug in recent years. The New York Times reports that state legislators approved a bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana use in June of 2019. This law reduces the restrictions on possessing certain amounts of marijuana, lowering fines and clarifying rules on smoking. While New York has allowed marijuana for medical purposes since 2014, this recent law addresses recreational use by adults. Supporters of the bill indicate that another aspect of the new law expunges previous marijuana convictions for many state residents.

Under the new law, possessing any amount of marijuana under two ounces is not a criminal offense. Marijuana possession may lead to a financial penalty in New York: if you have less than one ounce of marijuana, you may have to pay a $50 fine. If you have between one and two ounces of the drug, the fine is $200. State law indicates that fines may not change regardless of whether you have a criminal history of possession.

This overview of New York’s marijuana laws is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.