Changes to New York’s Marijuana Laws: What You Need to Know

Anyone who has a criminal record with marijuana charges in New York, or who is currently facing charges related to marijuana possession in the state, should learn about the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). The legislation was recently signed into law by Gov. Cuomo, and it legalizes production, distribution, possession, and use of marijuana in the state of New York. As a result of legalizing recreational marijuana, several other changes have occurred under New York law, some of which may affect New York residents who are currently seeking to have criminal records concerning marijuana convictions sealed or expunged. At the same time, it is critical to know that you can still face certain marijuana-related criminal charges in the state depending upon the amount of marijuana in question and other factors.

If you have questions about defending against marijuana charges after the passage of the MRTA, or if you have inquiries or concerns about a past marijuana-related criminal conviction, an experienced Rochester criminal defense attorney can help.

Recreational Marijuana is Legal (Up to a Certain Amount)

The first and perhaps most important thing to know about the MRTA is that it removes all marijuana and marijuana-related products from New York controlled substances laws. Instead, the new law will result in marijuana and marijuana-related products begin regulated by the Liquor Authority of New York State with the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management. This office will regulate the sale and distribution of both recreational and medical marijuana in New York.

Yet unfettered possession, manufacture, and distribution marijuana is not necessarily permitted under the MTRA. The MRTA only permits lawful possession of a particular amount of marijuana before a person can face a violation or, in some cases, criminal charges. The MRTA allows New Yorkers to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and to grow three mature marijuana plants at their residences. If more than one adult lives in the household, there is a limit on the total number of marijuana plants that can be owned: 6 per household.

Marijuana Possession and Distribution Can Still Result in Criminal Charges

Just because recreational marijuana is now legal in New York does not mean that you can lawfully possess large quantities of marijuana. Possession of more than 3 ounces can result in a violation that comes with a monetary fine. Possession of more than 16 ounces of cannabis can still result in misdemeanor charges, and possession of more than 5 pounds of cannabis can still result in felony charges. If you are facing cannabis-related charges in New York, it remains essential to have a criminal defense attorney on your side.

Expungement of Marijuana or Cannabis Records

With the passage of the MRTA, criminal records involving the possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana—now the legal limit—will be automatically expunged.

Seek Advice from a Rochester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our Rochester criminal defense attorneys have years of experience representing clients in a wide variety of marijuana-related charges and other drug possession and distribution charges. If you have questions about the MRTA or if you need help developing a defense strategy for charges you are facing, our firm can help. Contact King Law today.


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