Staying current is extremely important in all sections of law. The legal use of cannabis or marijuana in New York is undergoing intense analysis and much is changing. There is, however, one key aspect that remains crystal clear: the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal.

Medical use of cannabis, however, has changed. In July 2014, the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo passed the Compassionate Care Act in order to provide an effective, safe, and comprehensive medical cannabis program that meets the needs of New York cannabis users.

This bill comprehensively governs the manufacture, sale, and use of medical cannabis. It attempts to strike the right balance between protecting the public against risks of its health and safety and potentially relieving the suffering and pain of those in desperate need of a treatment.

Cannabis Possession and Use Laws in New York

New York Cannabis

It is a crime to intentionally or knowingly possess marijuana/cannabis in New York. Penalties differ depending on the amount of marijuana possessed and whether or not it was the first violation or the subsequent.

• Up to 25 grams: New York has legalized the possession of relatively smaller amounts of cannabis (at least when it comes to the first and second violations). Similar to a traffic violation, these violations are regarded as civil citations which incur a fine but not jail time. For a first offence, the fine is up to $100 and for the second offence, it is up to $200. Third and the following offenses on the other hand, are bad behavior and are punishable with up to $250 fine, up to 5 days in prison, or both.

• Between 25 grams and 2 ounces: The possession of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 3 months in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both.

• Between 2 and 8 ounces: The possession of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

• Between 8 and 16 ounces: The possession of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 4 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

• Between 16 ounces and 10 pounds: The possession of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Mandatory prison time is applied to second and following offenses.

• 10 pounds or more: The possession of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Manufacture and Sales

It is illegal to sell or cultivate marijuana in New York. Penalties differ depending on the amount sold or cultivated. It is also a crime to give cannabis to somebody else without any payment (for instance, as a gift), and if sold to a minor, additional penalties will apply.

• Up to 2 ounces without payment: Sale of cannabis of these amounts may result in up to 3 months in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both.

• Selling or cultivating up to 24 grams: Sale or cultivation of these amounts of cannabis may result in up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

• Between 25 grams and 4 ounces: Cultivation or sale of these amounts of cannabis may result in 1-4 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

• Between 4 and 16 ounces: Cultivation or sale of these amounts of cannabis may result in 1-7 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

• 16 ounces or more: Cultivation or sale of these amounts of cannabis may result in 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

• Selling any amount to a minor: Selling any amount of cannabis to a minor may result in 1-7 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in New York to cultivate, use, or sell use drug paraphernalia (or have it with the intent to do so). Drug paraphernalia includes things that are used in growing, processing, harvesting, storing, selling, or using marijuana/cannabis. Penalties include up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Registered Organizations

Under the new laws, registered organizations are allowed to cultivate and distribute additional products including topicals such as patches, lotions, and ointments; semi-solid and solid products, including effervescent and chewable tablets and lozenges. All products are subject to rigorous testing.