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Punishments for marijuana offenses in New York

While a majority of New Yorkers and people across the country have a favorable view of marijuana, it does not mean the criminal justice system feels the same way. Marijuana laws in the Empire State range from light to harsh, depending on a variety of factors, including whether the offender has cannabis for personal use or distribution. 

If you face marijuana charges, you should know the potential consequences you face. Here is an overview of New York marijuana crimes.


The penalties for possessing weed vary depending on how much of the drug is in question. Possessing up to 25 grams is only a civil violation with fines, meaning it is not a serious crime. However, possessing any larger amount may land you in jail or prison. For example, possessing 10 or more pounds of marijuana may land you in prison for 15 years and a $5,000 fine.


Some consequences of selling or cultivating marijuana in New York include:

  • Up to 24 grams: Up to a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.
  • Between 25 grams and four ounces: Up to a $5,000 fine and four years in prison.
  • Between four and 16 ounces: Up to a $5,000 fine and seven years in prison.
  • 16 ounces or more: $5,000 fine and 15 years in prison.

As you can see, selling the drug tends to come with harsher punishments.

Trafficking and distribution

New York has tough laws for traffickers or distributors of any drug. A first-degree trafficking charge may result in anything between eight years and life imprisonment depending on the severity of the charges. 

Always remember that marijuana crimes may result in serious criminal penalties. If you are facing charges for possessing, selling or distributing marijuana, it is imperative to seek legal counsel for your case. An attorney may be able to achieve reduced or dropped charges by proving possession for personal use, lack of knowledge, lack of intent or entrapment.

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