The legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana has been a hot topic across the country for the past several years. Many states have legalized cannabis for recreational smoking and “edibles,” and some of those that have not, do allow certain people to purchase and use the drug to relieve pain and other symptoms of serious medical conditions. However, New York continues to have some of the strictest laws in the country regarding cannabis use. If you understand the basics of marijuana laws in New York, you may avoid potentially serious criminal charges.

New York lawmakers have, for the most part, decriminalized the use of small amounts of marijuana, according to the cannabis rights group Norml. The state permits medical marijuana and strictly regulates it. This does not mean you will avoid trouble if law enforcement catches you with a few grams of pot. You could face a $100 fine for your first offense being found with 25 grams or less of cannabis. Subsequent offenses carry higher penalties, which may not surprise you. Possessing between 25 grams and eight ounces or growing any amount of marijuana raises your charges to a misdemeanor.

You may be surprised to learn how easily you can find yourself facing felony penalties, which may include prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. The following points can shed some light:

  • Possession of more than eight ounces of pot is a felony carrying a minimum sentence of four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • Selling more than 25 grams of marijuana is a felony charge.
  • Selling pot to a minor or using a child to assist in selling or distributing is a felony.
  • A subsequent offense of possessing cannabis paraphernalia is a felony charge, including seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Since the laws for drug use and possession are severe in New York, it is important to seek assistance from a defense attorney if you are facing charges.