NY Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

On March 31, 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law to legalize recreational cannabis in the State of New York. Additionally, the legislation creates automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions that would not be considered legal.

According to the new state law, adults who are at least 21 years of age can possess up to three (3) ounces of marijuana for recreational use or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis. Furthermore, residents can store up to five (5) pounds of marijuana in a secured place at home.

Eligible adults can consume cannabis in private residences, so long as the landlord doesn’t prohibit such activity on the premises. As of right now, individuals can smoke or use marijuana in public wherever smoking tobacco is legal, but municipalities have the authority to regulate smoking cannabis in public.

Residents can also grow up to six (6) plants or a maximum of 12 plants per household. However, they are not allowed to do so until 18 months after the first recreational dispensaries open to the public. On the other hand, medical marijuana patients or their caregivers may cultivate the same number of plants six (6) months from now.

While possessing more that than legal limits can result in a misdemeanor charge, selling cannabis without a license can be charged as a felony offense. When it comes to drugged driving, driving under the influence of cannabis is just as illegal as driving while impaired by alcohol.

The first recreational sales are not expected to occur until 2022 at the earliest. Officials need to figure out the operations of the industry, from sales regulation and taxation to license issuances for growers, processors, retailers, and other parties.

The new law is also designed to eliminate the racial disparities as a result of the enforcement of the previous law. According to data from the New York Police Department, approximately 94 percent of Black and Latino New Yorkers were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2020 – although statistics show that marijuana use among white residents is considerably higher compared to Black or Latino residents.

Whether you have been recently charged with a marijuana-related crime in Rockland County or interested in having a past conviction expunged, contact the Law Office of Brian Berkowitz today at (845) 638-9200 for a free initial consultation. Get an attorney with more than two decades of experience on your side!


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