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Photograph: Wesley Gibbs

Legal weed in NYC: Everything you need to know about marijuana in NYC

Wondering how to legally smoke marijuana in New York City? Here's your guide to New York's current laws.

By Will Gleason
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After years of failed attempts, Governor Cuomo finally signed legislation last week making weed legal in New York. However, even though New York is now on track to become one of the nation’s biggest markets for marijuana, many of the changes still don’t got into effect for quite some time. You probably have a lot of questions about the situation, and we’ve got answers! Here’s your guide to the current state of legal weed in New York. 

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What’s legal right now?

The main portion of the law that immediately goes into effect is that individuals can now posses up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational use (or 24 grams of of the drug when it comes to more concentrated forms like oils.)

Can I smoke anywhere?

New Yorker are now permitted to smoke marijuana wherever it’s legal to smoke tobacco, though in the coming weeks, a newly formed state agency could restrict that further. You can’t smoke in schools, workplaces or cars. Also, since tobacco is banned there as well, that also means it’s still technically illegal to smoke in NYC’s parks, beaches and boardwalks.

Will there be places in the city you can go to smoke?

Eventually, New Yorkers will be able to go to “consumption sites” around the city where you’ll be able to use the drug in lounges but that’s still some months off. Also coming down the pipeline? Eventually, you’ll be able to get the drug legally delivered and cultivate up to six plants in your home.

When will dispensaries open in the city?

Since a lot of this new industry’s infrastructure will need to be developed over the next year, dispensaries aren’t expected to open until more than a year from now. 

Why did this take so long and why did it happen now?

After the last year of lockdowns and working from home, the state is in sore need of new tax revenue and the governor’s office has previously estimated that—once it’s fully up and running—this new industry could bring in an extra $350 million. A main sticking point is in negotiations in the past was how much of this money could be reinvested in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The settled legislation has 40 percent of funds being directed toward those communities, 40 percent being earmarked for public education and 20 percent toward drug treatment, prevention and education. (It also automatically expunges the records for people convicting for activities that are no longer illegal.)

Wait—does that mean I’m gonna pay a crazy amount of taxes when I buy weed?

Kind of! The retail sale of marijuana in New York will be subject to a 9 percent state tax and a 4 percent local tax.

What else was in the legislation legalizing recreational use of weed?

You can read it for yourself! Here’s the full text of the Senate Bill S1527C aka the “marijuana regulation and taxation act.”

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