New York Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits

by Kat Austin December 15, 2023 5 min read

New York Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits - Vida Optima™

New York's stance on cannabis laws has experienced considerable transformations, moving from stringent prohibition to embracing medical cannabis and relaxing penalties for recreational use. 

While understanding these laws might appear intricate, let's explore New York's evolving cannabis legislation. 

We'll explore possession rules, cultivation directives, penalties, and the procedures surrounding the acquisition and distribution of medical marijuana. Let's uncover the dynamic shifts in New York's cannabis laws.

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in New York?
New York Cannabis Laws
How the Legal Sale of Cannabis Happens
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes
Where to Buy Cannabis Online

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in New York.
  • Adults can buy up to 2 ounces of cannabis at a time, or more for medical users. There are no possession limits for private spaces. 
  • There are penalties for possessing more than the allowable amount of cannabis, for unlicensed sales, and for consuming in public spaces. 

Is Cannabis Legal in New York?

Cannabis flower, edibles and a pre-rolled cannabis joint to show three examples of cannabis products available in New York.

In New York, marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana has been legal since 2016 under the Compassionate Care Act, allowing patients and designated caregivers to use, produce, and transport it. Recreational use was legalized for adults above 21 through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in March 2021. 

Adults can possess up to 3 ounces or 24 grams of concentrate, while medical users can have a 60-day supply prescribed by their doctors. Residents over 21 can grow a limited number of plants at home, but specific rules for recreational home cultivation are pending. Smoking in public areas allowed for cigarette smoking isn't allowed in vehicles, schools, or workplaces.

Regulations for Adult Use

In New York, adult-use consumers may:

  • possess up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use.
  • Smoke or vape cannabis in areas where smoking tobacco is permitted and in private residences.
  • Cultivate up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants in their own way in a place that is inaccessible to those under the age of 21. 
  • share cannabis within the possession limits with someone 21 or older without taking payment. 
  • Legally transport cannabis, up to the legal possession limits, in a personal vehicle. It must be stored in a closed container like the trunk of a locked glove box. 

Regulations for Medical Use

A registered New York medical marijuana cardholder has the same rights as adult use consumers, but they may also:

  • Possess up to a 30-day supply of cannabis products based on their doctor’s recommendation
  • Qualify for medical cannabis if aged 18-21
  • Qualify for medical marijuana if under age 18 with a parent or guardian’s consent. A guardian must be established for purchasing and administering cannabis products. 

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis in New York

The qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in New York Include:

  • Acute pain management
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid substitution
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Any other condition that the practitioner believes can be treated with medical cannabis

Restrictions for Cannabis Use in New York

In New York, despite the legalization of medical and adult-use marijuana, strict rules are in place via the MRTA:

  • Anyone under 21 can't buy or use cannabis; minors needing it must rely on adult caregivers.
  • Public smoking is limited to areas allowing tobacco use.
  • Selling to or involving minors in marijuana transactions is prohibited.
  • Possession or sale exceeding 3 ounces or 25 grams is unlawful.
  • Cannabis use is forbidden on federal lands and during driving (considered "drugged driving").
  • Crossing state lines with cannabis, even to legalized states, is not allowed.
  • Unauthorized sale or intent to sell cannabis is illegal.
  • Adult-use dispensaries have distance regulations from schools and places of worship, making consumption in these areas illegal.

New York Cannabis Laws

Cannabis is legal, but how did it happen? Here's a breakdown of the cannabis-related laws enacted in New York:

Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)

  • Effective March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo legalized adult-use marijuana , allowing for producer, distributor, and retailer licensure.
  • Established the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board to regulate licensing and establish retail dispensary and on-site consumption licenses.
  • Aims to invest in impacted communities, reduce the illegal drug market, end racial disparities in cannabis laws, create new industries, reduce unemployment, and strengthen the agriculture sector.

Approval of Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) in 2022.

  • Creation of Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator and Processor licenses in February 2022 for hemp growers to cultivate high-THC marijuana and process adult-use cannabis products.

How Cannabis is Bought and Sold in New York

In New York, both medical and recreational marijuana are sold. Medical marijuana is available at state-licensed dispensaries with a patient's MMJ card and certification from a registered practitioner. 

Cash is commonly accepted. Caregivers with authorization can also purchase and deliver medical marijuana. Prices vary based on the product and dosage, usually ranging from $50 to $350 for different supplies like tinctures, vapes, and pills.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in New York

Penalties in New York for Marijuana Offenses:

Possession for Personal Use

  • Up to 3 ounces: Legal for ages 21 and older.
  • Over 3 ounces, up to 16 ounces: Fine up to $150.
  • Over 16 ounces, up to 5 pounds: Misdemeanor, up to 1 year imprisonment, and $1,000 fine.
  • Over 5 pounds, up to 10 pounds: Felony, up to 4 years imprisonment, and $5,000 fine.

Public Consumption

  • Smoking or vaping marijuana in public: Civil penalties apply.


  • Up to 3 ounces for free: No penalties.
  • Sale to under 18: Felony, up to 7 years imprisonment, and $5,000 fine.
  • Sales in different quantities: Fines range from $250 to $15,000, with imprisonment up to 15 years for over 100 pounds.


  • Up to 6 plants per person (12 per household): Legal.
  • Over 6 plants (12 per household): Misdemeanor, up to 1 year imprisonment, and $1,000 fine.

Hash & Concentrates

  • Up to 24 grams: Legal.
  • Possession in various amounts: Fines range from $150 to $5,000, with imprisonment up to 7 years for over 4 pounds.
  • Sale in different quantities: Fines range from $250 to $30,000, with up to 25 years imprisonment for sales in specific locations or to minors.


  • Possession of paraphernalia: Legal.

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door. 

Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections.

Vida Optima Cloud0 Delta-9-THC Gummies

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Cannabis Encyclopedia

HXC vs THC: Effects, Legality, and Benefits Explained - Vida Optima™
HXC vs THC: Effects, Legality, and Benefits Explained

by Kat Austin April 24, 2024 7 min read

HXC may fill THC's shoes better than most THC alternatives. Here's why:
Read More
What Is HHC vs Delta-8: The Differences You Shouldn't Ignore - Vida Optima™
What Is HHC vs Delta-8: The Differences You Shouldn't Ignore

by Kat Austin April 18, 2024 8 min read

Don't let hexahydrocannabinol be a mystery. Here's what you should know:
Read More
THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide - Vida Optima™
THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide

by Kat Austin March 28, 2024 6 min read

Slight differences between these two cannabinoids produce very unique effects.
Read More