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What Are the Laws Regarding Marijuana Usage in New York City?

 Posted on May 06, 2020 in Criminal Defense

New York, NY drug charges defense attorney

Many states have updated their drug laws related to cannabis, making the drug legal for recreational use in some places. The punishments for possessing and using marijuana in New York have relaxed somewhat in the last couple of years, but they can vary depending on the circumstances. It is important to understand how these revised rules may affect you. However, if you are facing charges for any drug crime, it is imperative that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine how to best present your case and build a strong legal defense. 

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in New York?

Recreational marijuana usage is not legal in New York, but the laws pertaining to its usage have relaxed. For instance, if you get caught possessing under two ounces of marijuana, you will not be arrested, but you can be fined $50 to $200. If you are found with more than two ounces, you face stronger fines and jail time. Possession of an amount less than eight ounces is classified as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Even though possession of a small amount will not lead to a criminal charge, the private sale of marijuana is still prohibited. Technically, in order to purchase the drug, you would have to drive to a neighboring state where the sale of recreational marijuana is legal and bring some back with you. If you are caught selling cannabis in New York, you could face jail time and fines that reflect the quantity that you sold.

How Do These Laws Affect DWI Charges?

Being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) after using marijuana incurs the same punishment as when alcohol is consumed. However, there is no objective test for proving someone is high that can be performed on the road. Instead, law enforcement officers will conduct subjective field sobriety tests and decide whether to make an arrest based on what they see and smell. 

Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?

Although anyone possessing less than two ounces of marijuana is only subject to a fine in New York, these rules do not apply to a person who cannot be properly identified or to someone who already has an outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrant. These rules are intricate, and one of the benefits of the current laws is that any fine or court summons related to marijuana possession will be sealed and will not appear in police records or public criminal histories. This is worth noting, because a marijuana possession incident cannot be used against you later in court, and you will not have to disclose that you faced criminal charges or were arrested in the past. 

Contact a Manhattan Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you or someone you know is facing a drug conviction, contact the Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq., PLLC for professional legal counsel. With extensive experience in the criminal justice system, we can help you navigate New York’s complicated drug laws and determine the best defense strategy. Attorney Gregory J. Watford has over 25 years of litigation experience and 10 years of law enforcement experience. Our skilled New York County DWI defense lawyers will ensure your rights are protected in a court of law. Call us today at 646-580-6675 to schedule your private consultation.


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