Most New Yorkers want recreational marijuana to be legal. According to the NY Daily News, 62 percent of voters in New York support legalizing recreational cannabis for people who are 21 years old and older. There have been legislative efforts to legalize pot in New York over the past few years, but they have no traction yet.

Despite shifting public opinion, law enforcement cracks down hard on those who possess and sell weed. Here is a look at the current laws in New York and what may change in the future.

Medical marijuana

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to permit the use of marijuana for medical reasons in July 2014. Patients with health conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain may be able to receive medical marijuana as treatment. 

Possession of small amounts

Even though recreational pot is not legal, possessing a small amount is decriminalized statewide and even more so in New York City. NYPD is only supposed to issue tickets instead of arresting people for small possession. However, arrests may still occur.

Changing opinion

With the recent poll that shows a majority of New Yorkers supporting marijuana legalization, it is important to understand why. Making recreational pot legal would bring positive economic and social changes in the state. Taxing recreational sales would help erase the huge deficit. Voters want to see the drug legalized, taxed and regulated in similar ways that it is in other states, such as California and Colorado.

We may not see legal recreational marijuana in the near future, but it is a possibility. With so many people coming out in support of legalizing the drug, it would only make sense to stop punishing people so harshly for using or selling it. Keep an eye out to see when the laws may change, but bear in mind that for now, there will continue to be potentially severe punishments.