Cannabis Flower in House of Puff Green and Purple Ceramic Bowls with Blue and Yellow Mini Rolling Trays

5 Things to Know About NY Legalization

NY legalization is finally a reality. That’s huge! Not just for those of us who use cannabis as medicine in New York, but for the state economy, too. According to the NY Times, the NY market is potentially a $4.2 billion industry. That was billion—with a “b”. That means millions of tax dollars at a time when the pandemic has gutted the tax base.

So what does NY legalization mean for you? Here’s the 5 things you need to know.

1. How much cannabis can you have under NY legalization?

Effective immediately, as long as you’re 21 or older, you can carry up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrates. To give you some perspective, it takes only about 1 ounce of flower to fill up a large Ziploc bag. Not the little sandwich ones—the substantial freezer bags. Needless, to say, 3 ounces is a lot! 

You can also store up to 5 pounds of cannabis at home. That logic comes from how much your legal home grow would likely weigh. More on that later.

2.When does NY legalization take effect and what can you legally buy?

Under NY legalization, you can only legally buy cannabis from licensed retailers. So, Governor Cuomo’s signature on the bill immediately decriminalized personal possession of the amounts specified above. But licensed retailers won’t be able to open until sometime in 2022. That’s because the state first has to set up all the administrative apparatus necessary to regulate the industry properly. 

Buying Cannabis Legally in New York

What you need to know right now is that, going forward, New Yorkers can officially possess and consume cannabis for purely recreational purposes. But you won’t be able to legally buy it in the state until next year. That’s a bit of a conundrum, but we know you’ll figure it out.

New NY Medical Marijuana Program

In the meantime, NY legalization is also expanding the state’s medical marijuana program. In the past, the program had some notable limitations. For instance, you used to only be able to buy a 30-day supply. Now, you’ll be able to buy a 60-day supply. But the biggest limitation was that NY dispensaries couldn’t sell flower. Under the new law, NY’s medical dispensaries will finally be able to. That’s huge! Why? Because flower makes your cannabis budget go a lot further. And that doesn’t mean you have to smoke it. To start making your own edibles at home, check out our easy cannabutter recipe—no special equipment required!

Qualifying Conditions Under NY Legalization

The other big change under the new law is that more medical conditions will qualify for medical cannabis. The expanded list isn’t out yet, but as soon as it is, we’ll link to it. 

For perspective on NY legalization, there's about an 1/8 ounce of cannabis flower in this green ceramic bowl

3.Where can you use cannabis?

Under NY legalization, you can now consume cannabis just about anywhere in the state—in your home, on the street—of course, just not when you’re driving.

We assume the state’s indoor smoking prohibitions will still apply. But, in 2022, there’ll even be licensed consumption lounges. We’re beside ourselves with anticipation…because you know no one will do cannabis lounges more chichi than NYC.

4.Can you grow cannabis at home?

It was in doubt for a long time, but we’re thrilled that NY legalization ended up including home grow! That’s really important because it ensures that anyone who needs cannabis for its health benefits can access it. Home grow keeps the cost of cannabis as affordable as growing your own houseplant.

Home Grow Advice

We’ll definitely be channeling our inner farmers soon with cannabis gardens of our own. And you can, too. To get some tips before you start, check out the lessons we learned during our first attempt at home grow. But don’t stop there. Before you start, get the real deal on cultivation from one of Colorado’s top craft growers. Then you can really go gourmet with your home grow.

When Does NY Home Grow Start and How Much Can You Grow?

Home grow, though, is still going to take a little bit of time. Until the state sets up regulations for it, NY legalization for home grow won’t take effect. But, the state has a time limit to put in the requisite regulations for home grow. For medical patients, it has to be regulated within 6 months of NY legalization. For recreational, it has to be regulated within 18 months. When home grow is finally legal, you’ll be allowed to have up to 6 plants for yourself (only 3 mature at a time) with a max of 12 plants per household. This is where the 5-lb possession limit comes in. Regulators determined that 6 plants weigh about 5 pounds.

5.What’s NY legalization doing to right all the wrongs of the War on Drugs?

We couldn’t write about legalization without speaking to its impact on communities of color. There will likely still be room for improvement, there always is. But the sponsor of the New York’s law, Senator Liz Krueger summed up her intent, “When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like.”

Social Equity Provisions

Very happily, NY legalization includes several provisions that look to reverse the awful toll that the War on Drugs has disproportionately taken on Black and Latinx communities. First, people with cannabis-related convictions for doing things that are now legal under the new law will have their records automatically expunged. That means they’ll no longer be excluded from housing, jobs, and even things like coaching a children’s basketball team.

Where Will Cannabis Taxes Go?

Second, after admin costs, 40% of cannabis-related taxes will go to reinvestment in communities that were adversely affected by the War on Drugs. Another 40% will go to fund public schools, and the final 20% will fund drug treatment facilities and public education programs.

Kristina Lopez Adduci with Yellow One Hitter and Yellow Mini Rolling Tray

Huge shout out to all the organizations, like the Drug Policy Alliance and NYC NORML, who’ve worked tirelessly for years to make access to cannabis a reality for every New Yorker in a way that will still benefit the communities that suffered the most harm under prohibition.

Let’s all celebrate by taking a puff!

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