Marijuana Law in New York

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Can I Get Arrested For Carrying Marijuana For My Own Personal Use in New York?

Generally, no, you can't.   Marijuana has been decriminalized in the state of New York, which means that possession of small amounts (25 grams or less) is treated as a civil citation (i.e. like a traffic ticket).  There will be a $100 fine for the first offense, and double that for a second.  On your third offense (and from then on), you can be incarcerated for up to 15 days.  

What If I Carry More Than That?

New York determines intent by the amount of marijuana you carry.  Anything over 25 g is automatically at least a misdemeanor, and can carry a jail sentence.  This is also true for smoking marijuana in public (any amount).  The basic divisions of punishment by weight are as follows:

What About Giving/Selling Marijuana to my Friends?

While most states generally consider giving away small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration to be the same thing as possession, New York actually classifies it as a separate crime.   Giving away as little as 2 grams will result in a misdemeanor and up to 3 months in jail (and the same goes for cultivation).  This means that passing as little as one joint to a friend can get you 3 months in prison.   For delivery or manufacture of 25 grams or less, the penalty goes up to one year in jail and adds a $1,000 fine.  The other distribution/cultivation penalties are as follows:

In addition, the sale or delivery of ANY amount of marijuana to a minor brings an automatic 1 - 2.5 year sentence and $5,000 fine.

Can I Carry Around a Bong or Water pipe in New York?

While New York does have laws against "drug paraphernalia," defining it as any product "primarily intended or designed to aid in the manufacturing, concealing or ingesting of a controlled substance," they only generally apply to "dirty" paraphernalia, meaning equipment that actually has been used and has drug residue in it.  Since many things, such as weight scales or tobacco pipes, can have both legal and illicit uses, it is often difficult to prosecute cases of paraphernalia possession, unless there is clear evidence of drug use.  So a never-used water pipe, or one used to smoke tobacco, would not be illegal in New York.    But possession of a dirty water pipe, or an object that has only drug related uses (like roach clips) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

What About Medical Marijuana?

New York has no laws concerning medical marijuana, so there is no legal defense for knowingly selling, possessing, or cultivating marijuana plants.  Even if you have a doctor's permission from another state (where it is legal), it will not be found legal in New York.  

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you have been cited for Marijuana possession in any amount, you should contact a criminal attorney in your area to help you answer questions about what rights you have under New York law.  The punishments for possession and distribution can differ significantly for the slightest changes in amount, so its important to consult a lawyer so you know the best way to defend yourself. A qualified New York defense lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case.

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Last Modified: 09-06-2012 12:11 PM PDT

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