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NYC Criminal Defense Attorney

Marijuana Legalization in New York


Is recreational marijuana legal in New York? Yes. Recently, important changes to New York Law have occurred that allow for legal possession and use of recreational marijuana in New York for people over 21 and up to 3 ounces in public. Additionally, prior New York marijuana convictions will be automatically expunged.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S854A/A1248A)

● Allows the use of cannabis by adults over the age of 21

● Automatically expunges records for prior criminalization

● Addresses collateral consequences in fields of immigration, housing,

employment, child welfare, and other consequences of criminalization

● Creates equity programs providing loans, grants, and incubator programs to

ensure broad opportunities for participation in the new legal industry by people from disproportionately impacted communities as well as by small farmers, with a goal of 50% of licenses going to equity applicants

● Dedicates 40% of tax revenue from marijuana sales to reinvestment in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war, with another 40% to schools and public education, and 20% to drug treatment, prevention and education

Anyone 21 years of age or older can:

● Possess up to 3oz cannabis inside or outside of home (PL § 222.05)

○ In the future, will be able to possess up to 5lbs in home (PL § 222.15(5) & (9))

○ Can possess higher amounts if prescribed by a doctor (CAN § 42)

● Smoke cannabis where one could otherwise smoke a cigarette (PL § 222.10(1))

● Give lawful amounts of marijuana to other people 21 and over as long as no

compensation is exchanged

Immigration consequences of prior marijuana convictions.

If you have been previously convicted of a marijuana offense and this conviction is causing current immigration problems, there may be new steps that can be taken to remedy this.

For people facing immigration consequences, the law provides for vacatur upon application; this is necessary because automatic expungement is not enough to provide relief in immigration cases

● Must submit a motion pursuant to CPL § 440.10(1)(k)

Because marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law, people with immigration concerns need to understand that there continue to be risks when disclosing marijuana-related activity to immigration officers


Although possessing and using recreational marijuana is legal, there are certain limitations. You can't drive under the influence of marijuana (drive while high) and occupants of your car can't use marijuana.