New York

Is weed legal in New York?

Yes, it is. Both recreational and medical cannabis are legal in the Empire State

Cannabis has been decriminalized in New York since 2019.

Legislation history

After nearly legalizing marijuana in 2019, New York passed SB 854-A, the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, in March, 2021 after ironing out issues over impaired driving and social equity. The bill legalized purchasing, possessing, and transporting up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of weed and up to 24 grams of concentrate for adults 21 and older. It also established the Office of Cannabis Management to oversee all related matters — medical, recreational, and hemp. 

It also set up licensing guidelines for growers, producers, distributors, and retailers while attempting to address long-standing issues around race, social equity, and enforcement of cannabis laws. Automatic expungement or resentencing was included for those convicted of acts no longer considered illegal. 

In 2019 New York seemed poised to become the first state to create a legal, regulated marijuana market through the legislative process. After debating the legalization of all marijuana, the legislature was unable to come to a consensus, with divisions mostly over social equity provisions. However, lawmakers did expand a 1977 law that decriminalized cannabis. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the decriminalization bill into law on July 29, 2019, and it went into effect a month later. 

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2014 under New York's Compassionate Care Act, or S7923, which permitted the possession, use, manufacture, delivery, transport, and administration of medical marijuana by patients and designated caregivers.

Regulation authority

The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP), under the auspices of the Department of Health, oversees the medical cannabis registry as well as certification, purchasing, and dispensing for patients and caregivers. The MMP also manages the certification, registry, and regulation of practitioners and dispensing facilities.

In March, 2021, new legislation established the Office of Cannabis Management to oversee all cannabis matters in the state, once it's up and running.

Where is it safe to purchase cannabis in New York?

New York has passed new legislation so things are in flux but for now, certified patients can purchase medical cannabis from state-regulated organizations operating dispensaries throughout the state. Patients must bring their registry ID cards and certifications. They are allowed to purchase a 60-day supply of cannabis in forms specified by their doctor.  

Designated caregivers obtaining medical marijuana on behalf of patients need their caregiver registry identification cards and their patients' certifications. Some registered organizations also offer online ordering.

Possessing cannabis in New York

After the passage of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act in March 2021, adults 21 and older can possess up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.

Registered patients may hold up to a 60-day supply of an approved medical cannabis product at any time. Patients and designated caregivers must have their medical marijuana registry ID card on hand at all times when possessing medical cannabis. 

Vaporizing or smoking approved medical cannabis products is illegal in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited. It is also illegal to vaporize a medical marijuana product within 100 feet (30.5 meters) of public or private school grounds, unless on private property. Consuming medical cannabis is illegal in motor vehicles on public and private roads or parked in any lot.

Marijuana products may not be transported outside of New York.

Medical Marijuana Registry Program

The MMP is the portal through which New York patients register for identification cards and are granted access to cannabis from approved dispensaries.

To register, patients must first contact a practitioner registered with the Department of Health and be certified with a qualifying condition. Patients must be New York residents or temporarily residing in the state for medical treatment.

Once certified, patients create an account online. Once approved, they receive a temporary registry identification card, which may be used in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID to purchase approved medical marijuana products until the permanent registry ID card arrives. Registrations expire when the certification issued by the practitioner expires based on the prescription. Patients and caregivers must re-register each time a new certification number is issued.

The state charges a $50 application fee for patients and caregivers, but the fee may be waived or reduced for financial hardship.

The list of health professionals who can certify patients includes nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Practitioners are required to complete a Department of Health-approved education course, create an account, and register with the Health Commerce System.

Rules for caregivers

A certified patient may designate up to two caregivers during the registration process. Patients can designate certain facilities as caregivers, although facility participation is optional.

After being designated by a patient, caregivers are required to go through the same application process as patients and must also carry the required identification. Once approved, the caregiver can assist up to four patients in obtaining, possessing, and administering medical marijuana. Caregivers are allowed to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana on behalf of each patient. Marijuana must be in the proper consumption forms and dosages for the specified patients.

Qualifying conditions

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington's disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neuropathy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pain that degrades health and functional capability
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Spinal cord injury with spasticity
  • Substance-use disorder
  • Any other condition certified by the medical practitioner

Reciprocity

Certifications or registry ID cards from other states are not accepted.

Lab testing

All medical cannabis products must be tested by an independent laboratory certified by the Department of Health's Environmental Laboratory Approval Program. Products are tested for their cannabinoid profile, as well as the following microbiological, metal, and chemical contaminants:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Aspergillus
  • Bile-tolerant gram-negative bacteria
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Escherichia coli (e. coli)
  • Growth regulators used during production
  • Klebsiella
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Mucor species
  • Nickel
  • Ochratoxin
  • Penicillium species
  • Pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides used during production
  • Pseudomonas, for products to be vaporized
  • Salmonella
  • Streptococcus
  • Thermophilic Actinomycetes species
  • Zinc
  • Any other substance as required by the Commissioner of Health

Frequently asked questions

When is marijuana going to be legal in New York? 

Now. Marijuana is legal in New York for adults 21 and older. They can possess 3 ounces (85 grams) of weed and up to 24 grams of concentrate. The law was passed in March 2021 and it will take some time before cultivation, processing, and retail operations are up and running.

How much weed is legal in NY?

For adults 21 and older, it's legal to possess up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of weed and up to 24 grams of concentrate. 

This page was last updated March 31, 2021.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on July 19, 2021.