Marijuana Law in New York
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Can I Get Arrested for Carrying Marijuana in New York?
Generally, no: you can’t get arrested for carrying marijuana around for personal use in New York. Marijuana has been decriminalized in the state of, 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:
- 25 grams to 2 ounces: 3 months in prison and a $500 fine
- 2 - 8 ounces: 1 year in prison, $1,000 fine
- 9 - 16 ounces: 1 - 1.5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
- 16 - 10 pounds: 1 - 2.5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
- Over 10 pounds: 1 - 5.5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
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:
- 25 g - 4 oz: 1 - 1.5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
- 4 - 16 oz: 1 - 2.5 years in prison, $5.000 fine
- Over 16 ounces: 1 - 5.5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
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 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 passed the Compassionate Care Act in July 2014. Beginning in 2016, New York citizens with serious illnesses can purchase marijuana from state approved dispensaries. New York places a number of restrictions on its medical marijuana program:
- Patients must have physician approval.
- Patients must be registered with New York’s medical marijuana program.
- Only patients with specific illnesses may qualify for the program.
- Physicians cannot prescribed more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
- Marijuana will be subject to a 7% sales tax.
- Program will automatically expire in seven years unless state legislature renews it. Governor retains the right to end the program early.
- Patients cannot smoke the marijuana they purchase.
Which Illnesses Qualify for Entry to New York’s Medical Marijuana Program?
The following illnesses are approved conditions:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
- Parkinson's Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Huntington's Disease
New York’s Department of Health has the ability to add additional conditions to the list above. The following conditions are being considered before the program begins in 2016:
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Do I Need an New York Criminal Law Attorney?
If you have been cited for Marijuana possession in any amount, you should contact a criminal attorney in New York 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 it’s important to consult a lawyer so you know the best way to defend yourself. A criminal defense lawyer in New York can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case.
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Last Modified: 10-10-2014 03:56 PM PDT
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