Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 26, 2020

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Possession of marijuana is generally illegal in New York. However, the Compassionate Care Act, which was passed in New York in 2014 provides for a medical marijuana program that allows patients who are suffering from specified serious conditions to obtain marijuana for medicinal use. Patients must be certified by their physicians and must have a registry identification card in order to obtain approved medical marijuana products. Visit the New York Medical Marijuana website to learn more about New York’s medical marijuana program.

What are the Penalties for the Possession of Marijuana in New York?

If you are arrested for charges relating to illegal possession of marijuana in New York, the penalties you face will often depend on the amount of marijuana you possessed and your intended use for it. Unlike many other states, New York does not have laws that differentiate between the possession of plants and ready-to-use marijuana. New York’s marijuana penalties are based entirely on the weight of the amount possessed. Penalties range from fines to incarceration, and can also include court-imposed marijuana addiction treatment. Because of New York’s reliance on weight, individuals stopped with smaller amounts for personal use face much lesser penalties than those who have large amounts or who intend to sell the marijuana. Individuals possessing synthetic forms of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinols) or concentrated marijuana (hashish) typically face stiffer penalties than those who possess actual, organic marijuana. However, the marijuana-imitating substance known as K2 (which contains cannabinoids) is still legal in New York.

You do not have to be caught in the act of selling marijuana to face charges for attempt to distribute marijuana. Possessing a large amount of marijuana, measuring equipment, baggies, or other paraphernalia can be enough to warrant a charge, and all will be used as evidence of your intent to sell. The table below illustrates the penalties individuals face for specific acts related to the possession and distribution of marijuana under New York law. Keep in mind that separate penalties exist and can be enforced under federal law. Because this interplay of state and federal law can often become confusing, consulting an experienced New York criminal attorney can be the best thing you can do to understand the penalties you may face and the defenses that may be available to you.

New York Marijuana Penalties Table

Activity

Amount

Offense 

Incarceration (max) 2

Fine (max)

Charge

Possession

25 g or less

First 1

 

$100

Violation

Second 1

 

$200

Violation

Third or more 1

15 days

$250

Violation

Over 25 g – 2 oz or amount in public view

Any

3 months

$500

Misdemeanor (B)

Over 2 oz – 8 oz

Any

1 year

$1,000

Misdemeanor (A)

Over 8 oz – 16 oz

1st & 2nd Felony

4 years

$5,000

Felony (E)

Over 16 oz – 10 lbs

1st & 2nd Felony

7 years

$5,000

Felony (D)

Over 10 lbs

1st & 2nd Felony

15 years

$5,000

Felony (C)

Distribution

Gift

2 g or less or 1 cigarette

Any

3 months

$500

Misdemeanor (B)

Over 2 g – 25 g

Any

1 year

$1,000 3

Misdemeanor (A)

Sale

25 g or less

Over 25 g – 4 oz

1st & 2nd Felony

4 years

$5,000 3

Felony (E)

Over 4 oz – 16 oz

1st & 2nd Felony

7 years

$5,000 3

Felony (D)

Over 16 oz

1st & 2nd Felony

15 years

$5,000 3

Felony (C)

Any amount to a child

1st & 2nd Felony

7 years

$5,000 3

Felony (D)

  1. Offenses must take place within 3 years of each other to be considered subsequent offenses.
  2. Minimum sentences vary for felonies depending on several circumstances. As such, the table above only includes maximums.
  3. Maximum fines may be increased depending on the amount of money the accused made from the sale of marijuana.

Follow this link for more information about New York Marijuana Laws and New York Medical Marijuana Laws