New York has been making some tremendous progress with cannabis legalization in the last year. With this being the case, we expect New York weed laws to give consumers and business operators opportunities that weren’t available in the past.
Sure, medical marijuana has been legal for quite some time. But besides the state’s medical marijuana program, we can expect New York marijuana legalization to encourage adult-use businesses.
With these new laws, we need to expect cannabis regulatory oversight to develop in the state. While New York marijuana is now legal, the state hopes to increase its tax revenue by taxing cannabis products New Yorkers consume.
But what does this mean?
For starters, the state will have marijuana products for recreational use available. The law will require updates to ensure a state is a secure place for production, distribution, and consumption.
Social equity and health will remain at the forefront of cannabis consumption in NY. But for business operators, the new law means those operating in and out of New York City will need financial services to scale their operations.
This article covers the regulatory authority in NY, as well as how recreational marijuana and medical marijuana laws will work in 2021.
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Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the MRTA on March 31, 2021. This legislation legalized adult-use cannabis in the state. Furthermore, the legislation created the Office of Cannabis Management, which is governed by a Cannabis Control Board that’s responsible for overseeing and implementing the state’s cannabis laws.
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NY Office of Cannabis Management
Even though federal law still prohibits cannabis, NY legalized medical cannabis – and recently, the state-approved recreational. But with this industry’s development in the state comes the need for cannabis management.
This is where the New York Office of Cannabis Management will play its role.
The state recently became the 15th state to legalize cannabis with a focus on social equity. Its Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) is the first legislation in the nation to offer a comprehensive regulatory structure for oversight of licensure, cultivation, production, distribution, sale, and taxation for medical, adult-use, and cannabinoid hemp.
This taxation act is a comprehensive regulatory framework that highlights the importance of social justice, public health and safety, and economic development surrounding the cannabis space. Thus, this stands to set standards for every cannabusiness in the state, including but not limited to each cannabis dispensary in NY.
Here’s some more insight about each prong of the Office of Cannabis Management:
Now that cannabis is legal in New York, this framework is dedicated to establishing a strong social and economic equity program. This will actively encourage people from communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the state’s prohibition policies to get involved in the cannabis space.
Public Health & Safety
Both public health and safety are important to those regulating the NY marijuana space. By focusing on these characteristics, the state plans to create a regulatory structure that includes standards for production and manufacturing, labeling, strict product testing, packaging, and advertising. This is how the state plans to guarantee products are safe for consumers and companies aren’t targeting children with their marketing efforts.
No one in NY wants distressed farmers. Through the state’s economic development plan, it will encourage small businesses and farmers to play their roles in the cannabis sector by creating microbusiness, cooperative, and delivery license types.
Medical Marijuana Laws According to the MRTA
New York’s MRTA also has provisions that expand upon the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. The current regulations and program operations will stay the same for New Yorkers interested in cannabis use for certain circumstances like Alzheimer’s Disease.
However, the state needs a regulatory framework in place to facilitate new law implementation. This will take time to develop, which will include a host of new regulations that will be issued and adopted to initiate the necessary changes.
Recreational Marijuana Laws According to the MRTA
New York adult-use cannabis legalization will impact public policy tremendously as it affects various facets of society. The MRTA’s regulatory framework will need time to evolve and must receive input from stakeholders and communities throughout the state.
The OCM needs to draft and issue regulations regarding law implementation before adult-use sales can start. But at this point, even though consumers cannot find stores to buy adult-use cannabis products, it’s now legal for adults 21 years of age or older to possess and use cannabis.
Hemp Laws According to the MRTA
Through the MRTA, the OCM is now authorized to regulate cannabinoid hemp products (those that contain cannabidiol or “CBD) manufacturing and sales. This, of course, includes concentrated cannabis that’s derived from the hemp plant.
The OCM plans to implement basic consumer protections to guarantee that all cannabinoid hemp products are made, tested, and labeled with best practices for safety in mind.
The MRTA also has provisions that expand the Cannabinoid Hemp Program. Currently, the program operations remain the same. But we expect future regulation packages to reflect the changes.
New York Cannabis Laws FAQ
Is recreational marijuana legal in NY?
At this point, it’s legal to smoke marijuana – or otherwise consume it. But while you can smoke cannabis in NY, it will be a while before regulations are in place to allow the first adult-use dispensary to sell cannabis.
What does legalization do for New Yorkers?
Now that cannabis use is legal in NY, residents can possess up to three ounces of cannabis flower for recreational use. They can also hold up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.
In the past, possession and consumption were limited to those suffering from chronic pain or other medical conditions. Cannabis use is now an option for all adult New Yorkers for personal use.
Cannabis possession is no longer restricted to patients – like disabled veterans and people suffering from debilitating conditions – and their designated caregivers.
People who are 21 years old or older can now use, smoke, eat, or consume a cannabis product without the need to worry about incarceration or fines. However, they won’t be able to purchase weed at a legitimate business until an adult-use dispensary opens.
Now that NY will legalize marijuana, people can store up to five pounds of dry cannabis at home. However, adult use and medical cannabis must be stored in a secure place.
Marijuana convictions can still happen. But for now, these are limited to the amount of marijuana one has and selling it without the right cannabis license in NY.
Where can marijuana consumption happen?
The bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Liz Krueger, said that people can legally smoke tobacco where others are smoking tobacco. While cannabis plant matter is vastly different, the rules for consumption are similar.
Just like cigarette smoking is not allowed in schools, workplaces, or in cars, neither is cannabis smoking. However, new rules could eventually offer stricter regulations for marijuana consumption in public.
At this point, if someone smokes cannabis publicly where it’s not allowed, they could receive a civil penalty of $25 and have to complete as much as 20 hours of community service.
However, the smell of cannabis isn’t enough for a police officer to stop and search pedestrians.
Consumers are allowed to partake in cannabis in private residences, too. This, of course, depends on the landlord as they can still ban consumption. Some hotels and motels allow it, as well.
Within several months, marijuana consumption sites will be open. These will not allow alcohol, but they will allow cannabis smoking on-site once regulations are developed.
Is impaired driving going to be an issue?
Driving under the influence of marijuana is still a crime. Comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis consumption before getting behind the wheel – or while – is still against the law. While past marijuana convictions are likely to get expunged, criminal records that include driving under this plant’s influence will not.
Where can I legally get cannabis in NY?
At this point, the law is working on creating retail licenses. However, most consumable cannabis is not coming from a health care provider or medical marijuana dispensaries.
Until brick-and-mortar dispensaries become established, home cultivation is an option for some. While home cultivation takes some effort, the yield from a small grow-op’s mature plants makes it an appealing endeavor for some.
At the same time, for those looking for cannabis that offers quality, the health department might even approve of it, that’s going to take a while. But the cannabis plants grown at home – up to six plants per household – can be quite potent.
But remember, at this point, federal law does not allow cannabis. This, of course, includes the home cultivation of cannabis plants.
Anyone in NY who decides to grow cannabis at home must understand the rules surrounding these small grows. You must be 21 years or old, can grow up to six plants for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants). But if the household has two or more adults living in it, they can grow a maximum of twelve plants per household (6 mature plants, 6 immature plants).
New York Cannabis Laws & Business
Cannabis legalization in New York is new and exciting. But with the progress we’ve seen recently, it’s safe to say that business opportunities will continue to flourish in the state’s elevated space.
Now is the time to get involved in the cannabis industry; it’s a new frontier. And those who get in with the right mix of business acumen, hard work, and ethics will be rewarded handsomely.
It’s important to understand the progress we’re seeing unfold in NYS. As rules get more defined – both state-wide and at a local level – the opportunities will continue to grow. Take New York’s off-duty conduct law, for example.
But if you’re ready to start or grow your cannabusiness in this state, there’s no better time than right now.
Interested in growing your cannabusiness in NY? Northstar is ready to lead the way!
Contact us now to learn how our experts can scale your business with the right financial services.
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