There has been a massive wave of legal changes regarding marijuana in New York. Given how laws have changed in recent years, some people are under the mistaken impression that unless they get caught selling it, they won’t get charged for any kind of marijuana-related offense. 

Despite the much more permissive social attitudes about marijuana, the risk still exists for someone to get arrested and face criminal charges if they don’t comply with the existing New York laws regarding this popular plant.

Smokable marijuana is not medical marijuana

Under the current New York dispensary system for the medical marijuana program, state-licensed dispensaries may sell marijuana-based medicines to people, but these medicines are typically not for combustion or smoking. 

Instead, people can purchase oils, tinctures and edible products infused with various cannabinoids to help alleviate the symptoms of qualifying conditions like glaucoma and cancer. Anyone who gets caught smoking marijuana, even with a medical marijuana recommendation, could still wind up in legal trouble, especially if they are out in public.

Possession has been decriminalized but is not legal

Decriminalization means that someone won’t face incarceration or major charges for an offense. However, decriminalization is not the same thing as legalization. While it is true that those who get caught in possession of up to an ounce face a fine of only $50 and those caught with up to 2 ounces face a fine of only $200, those citations are still indicative of a violation of the law. 

Additionally, the use of marijuana is only legal on private property where you have permission. Using marijuana in a vehicle, on a street corner or in a public park could easily result in an arrest if you encounter the wrong police officer. The more you know about New York’s marijuana laws, the easier it will be for you to stay safe from charges. If a mistake happens, however, find an experienced advocate to protect your rights.