The news is full of updates about how certain states are legalizing marijuana and how using marijuana has become more mainstream and socially acceptable. States like Colorado, California, Alaska, and most recently, Illinois have legalized the use of both recreational and medical marijuana. According to Business Insider, 11 states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults ages 21+, and 33 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. However, that doesn’t mean you can possess it just anywhere without serious consequences!
Medical Vs. Recreational Marijuana Use
When understanding marijuana laws, it’s essential to understand the differences in laws regarding recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. New York state has legalized the use of medical marijuana but not of recreational marijuana. This means that in New York, only individuals with qualifying medical conditions may be prescribed non-smokable forms of marijuana under a doctor’s supervision, according to Norml.
Home cultivation or possession for non-authorized medical purposes is illegal and considered a serious offense. Marijuana is categorized in the most serious level in New York, along with the topmost dangerous drugs. In New York, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance which means that it is considered to have a high potential for abuse, according to FindLaw.
New York’s Marijuana Penalties
FindLaw goes on to warn that based on this legislative history, New York’s drug laws are complex and even sometimes convoluted. For this reason, it is imperative to consult a criminal defense attorney experienced in local drug laws if you are charged with a drug offense.
While New York’s drug laws can be complicated, the basic laws are below, as reported by FindLaw:
- Possession of up to 25 grams – a civil violation that incurs fines but no jail time
- Possession of 25 grams to 2 ounces – up to three months in jail and/or $500 fine
- Possession of 2 to 8 ounces – up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine
- Possession of 8 to 16 ounces – 1-4 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine (mandatory prison time for second offenses)
- Possession of 16 ounces to 10 pounds – 1-7 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine (mandatory prison time for second offenses)
- Possession of 10 pounds or more – 1-15 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine (mandatory prison time for second offenses)
- Sale of up to two ounces without payment – up to three months in jail and/or up to $500 fine
- Cultivating or selling up to 24 grams – up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine
- Sale of 25 grams to four ounces – 1-4 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine
- Sale of 4 to 16 ounces – 1-7 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine
- Sale of 16 ounces or more – 1-15 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine
- Selling any amount to a minor – 1-7 years in jail and/or up to $5,000 fine.)
What Are the Consequences for Marijuana Possession?
As a Schedule 1 substance, marijuana sale and possession in New York can lead to large fines of up to $5,000 and serious jail sentences of up to 15 years, as seen in the above laws. And the consequences don’t stop at fines and jail time. Charges for simply possessing drugs have other collateral consequences. Having a drug conviction on your public record can have serious repercussions when it comes to employment opportunities, approvals for loans, social stigma, and more. Being charged with marijuana possession or sale in New York can have lifelong negative consequences. But if you’re facing marijuana charges in New York, there is help available to you!
What Should You Do If You’re Charged with Marijuana Possession?
Because New York laws take marijuana possession and sales so seriously, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to help you navigate the hurdles of marijuana charges in New York. Remember that if you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent until speaking to a lawyer. You also are not legally obligated to consent to a search without a warrant. Before getting in touch with your attorney, you can simply tell police officers that you cannot answer any questions without legal representation.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you sort out your case and fight to get charges reduced or dropped if possible. If you have questions about your case in White Plains, New York, call 914.772.8614 or fill out a convenient online form.
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