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Is Cannabis Legal in New York?

If you enjoy smoking a bowl or lighting up a joint and you’re planning on visiting or moving to New York, then you may be wondering about the ins and outs of the state’s legal weed laws. Both medical and recreational cannabis are legal, but there are some nuances to be aware of, especially if you’re planning on getting a NY-issued medical marijuana card. We’re here to help—learn the differences between medical and adult-use laws, find out who qualifies for medical cannabis, and explore our New York locations for quality cannabis at competitive prices. 

Yes, weed is legal in New York. Medical marijuana was first legalized in 2016, and with the passage of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in 2021, it became legal for all adults 21 and older to possess and consume cannabis. To expand access for patients in need, there have also been numerous changes to the original New York medical cannabis program.

Recreational cannabis is legal for adults 21+ in New York with a valid government-issued ID. Here’s a deeper look at the state’s recreational weed laws. 

Cannabis Purchase and Possession Limits

Cannabis consumers may possess or purchase up to three ounces of cannabis, and up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrates (such as edibles or oils) outside of their home. Inside their home, consumers can store up to five pounds of cannabis. 

Public Consumption Laws

Under New York state law, adults aged 21 and older can smoke and vape cannabis in most places where tobacco smoking is permitted, but smoking and vaping is not permitted in public areas such as federal property, parks and public gardens, beaches, and bars and restaurants, for example.  The consumption of cannabis for adults is mostly restricted to private residential property, though property owners of apartment buildings or other rental units reserve the right to prohibit smoking, so it’s important to know the regulations applicable to your living situation. It’s also important to note that consumption laws may vary from district to district.  If you’re found consuming cannabis in a public space, you could be subject to civil penalties, including heavy fines. 

Cannabis and Driving Laws in New York 

You can not consume cannabis in a motor vehicle. Similar to most open container laws for alcohol, it’s illegal to consume cannabis while driving or to drive with open cannabis containers in your vehicle. You can be charged with DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) if you are found consuming cannabis while operating a motorized vehicle in New York. 

Medical Cannabis Laws in New York

Though adult consumers can go to any legal retail dispensary to purchase weed in New York, there are still several benefits to going through the state’s medical marijuana program.  Some patients find that cannabis helps with certain medical symptoms and chronic conditions, and they rely on medical marijuana to get through their day. Many cannabis patients aren’t your typical cannabis consumers, and they may benefit from having a doctor and experienced pharmacist or budtender to help them find what works best for them and their particular needs. Unlike recreational cannabis, there is no age limit for receiving medical cannabis. In New York, the process of getting a medical marijuana card—and the benefits of getting qualified—are designed to help the patients who need it most. The program has been expanded and streamlined to make accessing medical cannabis easier and more efficient.

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in New York

Once highly restrictive, New York now allows medical cannabis use for any condition that a certified healthcare professional sees fit. This means that if you have any symptom that may benefit from cannabis, you are no longer excluded from receiving it simply because you don’t have a specified qualifying condition that was previously laid out by the state. 

How to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card in NY

Getting your medical marijuana card in New York has never been easier; fees have been waived, and you don’t need a specific condition to qualify. Even finding a certified healthcare provider has been made as simple as possible. Here are the basic steps:

1. Speak with your healthcare provider to discuss whether or not medical marijuana can help treat your specific symptoms. If your provider is not registered with the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program, the Department provides a list of certified providers who have consented to have their names shared publicly. 

2. Your certification will include a Registry ID that, along with a valid government photo ID, you can immediately use to shop at medical dispensaries.

3. Register up to five designated caregivers if you need assistance with purchasing or administering your medicine. Caregivers can be added at any time after the patient is registered.

Possession and Purchase Limits for Medical Cannabis

While adult-use consumers are limited to three ounces for possession and purchase and up to five pounds at home, medical marijuana patients in New York have a 60-day-supply limit as specified by their certification.  Though there is no limit on potencies and product types on the recreational market, you’re more likely to see certain types of cannabis products in medical dispensaries. Often, these include things like tinctures, topicals, and capsules. 

Other Benefits of Having Your MMJ Card in NY 

Along with increased possession and purchase limits, some of the benefits of getting your medical marijuana card in New York include:

  • Lab-tested and trusted products
  • Lower sales tax 
  • Healthcare provider guidance 
  • Expanded selection to include combustible products 

New York Cannabis Law FAQs

Purchasing cannabis at the home of the Big Apple can be as easy as ordering a slice of pizza. However, there are always some specificities when it comes to cannabis—here are the answers to the most common questions surrounding legal weed in New York.

Cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use in New York. Recreational consumers must be 21+ and have a government-issued ID. Medical patients must have certification from a state-certified healthcare provider and be registered with the state’s medical program.

All adults aged 21+  are allowed to cultivate a maximum of six plants, though only three plants may mature at once and the maximum per household is capped at 12 (six mature, and six immature) plants.

How much cannabis can I purchase in New York?

In New York, recreational sales are limited to three ounces of cannabis, while medical patients can purchase up to their full 60-day supply, as recommended by their healthcare provider, in a single visit. 

What is the tax rate for cannabis sales in NY?

Recreational cannabis sales are taxed at 9% in New York. Medical marijuana cardholders will save at the register, as they are only subject to a 3.15% sales tax. 

Can I visit a dispensary in New York without a medical marijuana card?

At this time, there are a lot of unregulated dispensaries in the state, so many people are opting to get their medical cards to ensure they receive top-quality cannabis products from a state-licensed dispensary. While a medical dispensary will require a medical card, anyone 21+ with a valid ID is allowed to visit an adult-use dispensary and purchase recreational cannabis in New York. Have more questions or need help with the process of getting your medical marijuana card? Peruse our knowledge base, visit our expert budtenders at your local Vireo dispensary, or contact us by phone or email—we’re always happy to help!

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