Recreational marijuana has now been legal in New York for about two weeks.
While there are portions of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) that became legal right away, there are certain parts of the law that New Yorkers will have to wait for.
How Much Marijuana Can You Possess Right Now?
Right now, New Yorkers 21 years old and older can possess, obtain and transport up to 3 ounces of cannabis. New Yorkers can also possess up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis oil.
Eventually under this law, New Yorkers will be able to store up to five pounds of marijuana at their home. However, this part of the law does not go into effect until 18 months after the first legal recreational sale.
Counties will not be able to prohibit recreational sales, but cities will.
“Cities, towns and villages would be able to have that discretion, but not counties as a whole,” Sen. Jeremy Cooney explained. “So if you're from Rochester or Monroe County, they can't say that there will be no retail dispensary allowed in Monroe County.”
Can New Yorkers Start Growing Cannabis Plants for Recreational Use?
Under the MRTA, New Yorkers (21 and up) will be able to grow up to three mature plants and three immature plants at their home. If there are multiple people living at one residence, then New Yorkers can grow up to six mature and six immature plants per household.
How soon will this be possible? No later than 18 months after the first legal marijuana sale in New York. This means not until 2023 at the earliest.
This will be regulated by the Office Cannabis Management.
“Sort of the idea is to delay it a little bit,” said Axel Bernabe, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Allow dispensaries to get up and running. Allow folks to have access through regulated channels. And then if they still want to grow their own, like craft brewery, brew beer at home, you would be able to do that. And we would issue regulations 18 months from the first sale.”
Where Can You Smoke Marijuana?
Right now, New Yorkers can smoke marijuana almost everywhere they can smoke tobacco.
Landlords that allow for smoking on the premises must also allow for cannabis consumption. But this also means no smoking in parks, public transportation and bars.
There are exceptions, such as no smoking in the car even while it's parked and no smoking on outdoor patios at bars and restaurants.
Federal law also prohibits people from smoking cigarettes in public housing, which is one of the reasons the state will be looking at creating social consumption sites.
“Social consumption sites are created for those people cannot smoke where they live,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes explained. “And clearly you can't or you shouldn’t, be walking up and down the street using a product because in most places, you can't even smoke at a bus stop in Erie County.”
How Soon Will Marijuana Conviction Records Be Expunged?
Technically, immediately and automatically. However, the law allows for the Office of Court Administration to take up to two years to go through and dig up past marijuana convictions.
“It’s a lot more complicated than one might think, because sometimes charges can be grouped together, where they're not specified,” Cooney said. “That is something that's going to take a little bit more nuance and time and so we built that into the legislation.”
What Is the Office Of Cannabis Management?
Under the MRTA, the Office of Cannabis Management was launched to regulate the recreational and existing medical marijuana programs.
The Office of Cannabis Management will be overseen by a Cannabis Control Board made up of five members. Three members, including the chair, will be appointed by the governor and then the Senate and Assembly would appoint one member each. The Governor’s pick for chair must be approved by the Senate.
There will also be an advisory board made up of 13 members. Six members will be appointed by the legislature and seven by the governor.
The website for the Office of Cannabis Management can be found here.
More questions? Here's an earlier Q&A.