Marijuana Legalization in New York

Marijuana Legalization in New York 

(Compassionate Care Act)

The public view in the United States has transformed into very few issues over the years as it has on the legalization of marijuana. A series of polls from Pew and Gallop, and lately Washington Post, took the nation by the storm indicating that a majority of Americans supported legalization of marijuana.  However, New York State has been maintaining its traditionally strict measures on the control of the drug for quite some time, though only recently softening its legacy of the Rockefeller narcotic laws in place since 1973.

However, in January 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced, marijuana legalization in New York, the introduction of restrictive measures to make medical marijuana available to 20 designated hospitals for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma. Later in July, New York became the 23rd state to allow the medical use of marijuana as the Governor signed the Compassionate Care Act, not without drawing the criticism of legalization activists, though.

According to a news report from New York Times, the state is formulating a law that would legalize medical use of marijuana with restrictive conditions that only qualified patients suffering from 10 “life-threatening” conditions to be prescribed the drug. These conditions include, but are not limited to, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and multiple sclerosis.

Critics of the law believe that the lawmakers have imposed enough restrictions on the proposed legalization of the medical use of marijuana in the state, that it would become difficult for most patients to even receive it for treatment. The law requires that the drug should not be smoked by the patient and that only five brands of medical marijuana would be available at only 20 designated dispensaries across the state. The legislation even goes as far as to provide for the elimination of possible loopholes pertaining to these brand names.

Apart from the hurdle of the residents of the state commuting for hours to get to the dispensaries allowed to sell marijuana for medical use, the law is said to create other inconvenient consequences. Some regulations are even said to prohibit patients from eating or drinking on the premises of the dispensaries unless necessary for medical reasons. Furthermore, since the drug would not be covered by health insurance or Medicaid, critics are also concerned that low-income patients may not be able to easily access this method of treatment.

Nevertheless, if you are a resident of New York State or are visiting from another or abroad, you still need to observe the penal restrictions in the laws pertaining to the possession and sale of marijuana in the Empire State.

Under the Public Health Law of New York State, marijuana has been classified to be the equivalent of Schedule I hallucinogenic substances.

Currently, the New York State penalizes the possession and sale of any quantity of marijuana. However, it is important to note that the possession of marijuana in small quantities, specifically up to 25 g, has been decriminalized and only penalized by monetary fines for the first two offenses, with the third offense resulting in 15 days of incarceration in addition to it. These penalties make the possession of marijuana in small quantities comparable to a traffic offense, speaking of which, youthful offenders are penalized with the suspension of driving licenses for 6 months.

The sale of marijuana in small quantities, up to 25 g, is classified as a misdemeanor, while the sale in greater quantities results in the charge of felony, resulting in up to 15 years of prison time. Possession of 4 g to 1 lb. results in 7 years of imprisonment with a monetary fine.

The trafficking of marijuana is strictly prohibited and results in the mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years on indictment, with the term going up to as long as 25 years.

New York is not among the states which are expected to put a ballot measure for the legalization of marijuana in the 2016 elections.

In 2014, NY State and NY City decriminalized Marijuana for Medical use only!

Medical Marijuana Legalization In New York

Assembly Bill 6357  (85 KB)
Approved: June 19, 2014, by Assembly, 117-13; June 20, 2014, by Senate, 49-10
Signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 5, 2014
Effective: Upon Governor’s signature

The Department of Health has 18 months to establish regulations and register dispensing organizations. Marijuana will be taxed at 7%, to be paid by the dispensary. The law automatically expires after seven years.

Approved Conditions: Cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage causing spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, or Huntington’s disease. The Department of Health commissioner has the discretion to add or delete conditions and must decide whether to add Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, PTSD, and rheumatoid arthritis within 18 months of the law becoming effective.

Possession/Cultivation: 30-day supply to be determined by the health commissioner during the rulemaking process or by the physician.




Smoking is not a method approved by the bill.

Our mission is not over. The next step is to push for legalization of recreational marijuana for all residents and visitors of NYS and NYC.

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