In the United States, marijuana is becoming more and more liberalized. States such as Washington and Colorado have completely legalized marijuana, while Washington DC and Philadelphia have decriminalized it. A common question that many people find themselves asking is whether their city or state has legalized/decriminalized marijuana.
In New York, you cannot be arrested for carrying around marijuana for personal use. Marijuana has been somewhat decriminalized in the State of New York, which generally means elimination of penalties for or removal of legal restrictions against a substance. However, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in New York, which has led to various degrees of criminal drug possession violations depending on the amount of marijuana that you possess.
Decriminalization of marijuana in New York has led to possession of small amounts (25 grams or less) to be treated as a civil citation. In other words, possession of marijuana would be treated like a traffic ticket. If you incur subsequent violations, the fines will continue to amass.
Infractions For Possession Of Marijuana
For possession of marijuana, up to 25 grams is considered personal use and will only incur fines. If you possess between 25 grams and 2 ounces, an individual may be sentenced up to three months in jail and/or assessed a $500 fine. For 2 to 8 ounces of marijuana, an individual may be sentenced between 1 – 4 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. For a second offense of marijuana possession between 8 – 16 ounces, prison time is mandatory according to the New York Penal Code.
For possession between 16 ounces and 10 pounds, an individual may be penalized with a 1 – 7 year prison sentence and/or a $5,000 fine. Once again, there would be mandatory prison time for a second offense. If a possessor of marijuana is caught with 10 pounds or more, they may incur a 1 – 15 year prison sentence and or a $5,000 fine. A second possession offense would mean mandatory prison time.
Infractions For Gifting Or Sale Of Marijuana
In New York, individuals may not give away marijuana or legally sell marijuana. Although many states consider the “gifting” of marijuana to be the same as “possession,” in New York, giving marijuana away is actually a separate crime. If you give away as little as 2 grams of marijuana, then it may result in a misdemeanor offense, with a $500 fine and/or up to 3 months in jail.
In regards to the sale of marijuana, if an individual cultivates or sells up to 24 grams, then they may incur a sentence of up to 1 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. Sale between 25 grams and 4 ounces may result in 1 – 4 years of prison and/or a $5,000 fine. 4 – 16 ounces results in 1 – 7 years of prison time, and the sale of 16 ounces or more may leave you with 1 – 15 years in prison, with both the former and the latter incurring a $5,000 fine.
Why Are New York’s Drug Laws So Strict?
Clearly, New York Drug Laws are much harsher than those in other states. These harsher sentences are a direct consequence of the drug wars that occurred in New York in the 70s and 80s. New York attempted to crack down on the sale and distribution of marijuana because the streets of New York City were rampant with organized crime and drug lords.
Today, New York needs to find a way to make drug laws more effective in order to control the use of illegal substances. Between various states and the media, marijuana has become more and more accepted into general society. To list marijuana with other controlled substances, such as MDMA and heroin, is obviously ludicrous. Yet because marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in New York, individuals receive a sentence on par with that given for other more dangerous illegal substances.
If I Am Cited For Marijuana Sale Or Possession, What Should I Do?
If you have recently received a personal use marijuana citation or a cultivation/sale citation, then you need to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Receiving a violation for possession or sale of marijuana can lead to very serious consequences if not handled correctly. Furthermore, if you have received any controlled substances violation, then it is vital to contact an attorney right away so that you do not forego any possible rights you may have to fighting the infraction.