Recently, the national opinion regarding marijuana has been shifting towards a greater acceptance for personal use and medical purposes. Following this trend, many states have passed legislation for the decriminalization and medical use of the substance.
Despite the shifting views on Marijuana, New York State laws remain intact and are subject to the jurisdiction of the state's criminal courts. The laws surrounding marijuana, however, are confusing, to say the least, which is why this blog reviews the basics of possession, cultivation, and the medical use of marijuana.
New York Possession and Cultivation Laws
For citizens who are not covered by the medical program, it is illegal to knowingly possess marijuana. However, New York has recently taken steps towards reducing the enforcement of these offenses despite its illegality.
The punishments and charges related to possession depend on the quantity and weight of the amount in possession. The punishment for an offense of possession for personal consumption can result in a conditional dismissal of the charge or a fine. Possession of larger quantities for the purpose of distribution can result in a criminal record and more a severe punishment.
The distribution of Marijuana can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the weight of the Marijuana offered for sale and can result in a criminal record and jail time. Due to the nature of drug crimes in New York, charges related to marijuana can often overlap. For example, individuals who have been charged with cultivation can also be charged with possession. The ease in which drug charges can escalate underscores the necessity of securing a skilled criminal defense attorney when accused of a drug crime.
Medical Marijuana in New York
In 2014, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo took steps to allow limited use of medical marijuana through the Compassionate Care Act, which created a medical marijuana program to serve the citizens of New York. In order to qualify, citizens must be certified patients with a severe, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions for which the medical use of marijuana can help. According to the New York State website for the medical marijuana program, as of July 2016, 639 physicians have registered for the program and more than 5,900 patients have received a doctor’s certification. Approximately twenty hospitals across New York state are permitted to prescribe marijuana to patients. This treatment requirements, however, is more stringent that states like California.
Users of medical marijuana are not exempt from other related state laws. For example, it is still a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, even for registered card holders. Furthermore, patients must always carry their registry ID cards and are NOT allowed to transport marijuana outside of the state.
Medical conditions which qualify can include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
Charged with a Crime? Call (212) 577-9312
If you have been accused of a drug crime such as the possession or cultivation of marijuana, The Portela Law Firm, P.C. can help. Our New York criminal defense attorneys have more than two decades of combined experience helping clients defend against drug charges. Our legal team includes a former prosecutor who understands how the charges against you are likely to be structured and can formulate your defense accordingly. When your future is on the line, look no further than the Portela Law Firm.
Schedule a free initial consultation to get started on your defense.