On March 31, New York officially joined the list of states that have made recreational marijuana legal. That makes them the 15th state thus far, and it was a fight to get the bill approved. According to the now changed laws, any adult over the age of 21 can legally possess marijuana. 

It took years of fighting to get to this point, with many supporters lending their voice to the cause. Yet even with the law in place, there is still a lot that residents will need to understand about the changes. 

Is It Really Legal?

The simple answer is: yes. Marijuana is now legal in New York – but only for adults. Officers can no longer arrest people for smoking, ingesting, carrying, or selling marijuana. Additionally, the smell of cannabis is no longer considered a reasonable cause for a police search.

Where Is It Legal?

Liz Krueger had a simple way of explaining where marijuana is and is not legal within the state. Anywhere that it is legal to smoke tobacco, one can now smoke marijuana as far as public locations are concerned.

There are a few important limitations here. One can not smoke at schools, workplaces, or inside their cars. Additionally, private properties will still maintain the right to ban the practice – but only on their property.

What Will Change for Medical Marijuana Patients?

Since 2014 New York has had a medical marijuana program. That will not be going away. These new laws will further strengthen the program. The list of applicable medical conditions will grow exponentially and will now include conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and muscular dystrophy. Additionally, patients will no longer be banned from smoking marijuana and will get a double in their supplies (from 30 days up to 60). 

What About Taxes?

Marijuana will face taxation. There is a thirteen percent tax on all marijuana sales. Nine percent of that will go to the state level, with the remaining four percent to local cities and counties. New York already has a robust plan for the revenue, including helping communities that had been largely affected by the war on drugs.

What About Previous Charges?

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to the sudden legalization of marijuana is what happens to those that have a criminal record thanks to those laws. In New York, there will be an automatic expungement of records. That is to say, any person who has a marijuana-related offense on their record will have it removed.

Who Can Sell Marijuana?

Like the way liquor licenses are required, any location that wants to sell marijuana will need to work with the state. Additionally, New York will be creating separate licenses for on-site consumption, again in a similar fashion to alcohol licenses. Lastly, there will eventually be a delivery license as well.

Is It Legal To Grow?

Once again, the simple answer is yes, eventually. According to the new laws, individuals will be allowed up to three mature and three immature plants. Per household, the limitations will be six mature and six immature plants. However, this law won’t be officially in place until around 2023, so there is still some waiting.