Understanding New York’s Cannabis Laws

Even in states where marijuana has been legalized for both recreational and medicinal use, there remains a level of confusion about it. People often ask about how much they can have, the age they need to be to use it, how to sell it, and how former convictions are being treated. 

The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was the legislation that passed and allowed cannabis to be legal in New York. After it was passed, people projected that it could lead to hundreds of millions in additional tax revenue for the state, and the people using it would no longer face incarceration. The regulations surrounding its use can be found within the MRTA. 


When the MRTA was passed, it allowed people to both grow cannabis and possess it. Neither one of those things, in and of themselves, allow you to sell it. We will go over various licenses in the following section. 

The MRTA allows for an adult, aged 21 or older, to possess up to 3 ounces. If the cannabis is in a concentrated form, e.g., oils, edibles, or a vaporization oil, the amount drops to 24 grams. 

Types of Licenses 

The MRTA allows for you to have up to five pounds on your “personal residence or grounds.” Although you can grow, harvest, and consume it, you cannot sell it to someone else. New York is in the process of determining the where and how. Where cannabis retailers can operate and how it will be grown and distributed. 

The state has the challenge of regulating an industry that hadn’t previously existed. The need for proper oversight and regulation is why marijuana stores are slow to appear after it has been legalized. There are several different kinds of licenses that individuals and businesses can apply for:

  • Cultivator License 
  • Processor License 
  • Distributor License 
  • Retail/Dispensary License
  • Microbusiness License

Social Equity 

One of the driving forces behind the MRTA was the hope that legalization could help people. That is why 40% of the revenue from cannabis sales tax gets reinvested back into the community. People who have convictions related to cannabis can now have their records expunged. 

Another key aspect of the legislation is that 50% of the business licenses will be given to the following:

  • People with previous cannabis convictions
  • Women
  • People of color
  • Disabled veterans

The goal was to give back to people who have been harmed by previous laws. And these are the people who may likely apply for microbusiness licenses. It allows them to financially benefit from the industry too. 

Andrea L. Gamalski Attorney & Counselor at Law

Cannabis law and reform is evolving and adapting. If you have further questions about these laws, estate planning, or family law, contact Andrea L. Gamalski to schedule your free consultation. We are built on the premise that everyone deserves equal access to justice. Let us stand beside you, for you, and with you.

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Andrea L. Gamalski Attorneys at Law

Andrea L. Gamalski understands how important it is to have a compassionate and empathetic family law attorney who fights hard for their clients in the courtroom–mainly because she’s been one of these clients herself.

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