Is Cannabis Legal in NYC?

Wondering if you can light up in the Big Apple? Here’s what you need to know about cannabis laws in New York City.

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Cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes in New York state, but it remains illegal for recreational use. The state decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2019, but possessing any amount for recreational purposes is still a crime. NYPD officers have been instructed to issue summonses rather than make arrests for possession of up to two ounces of cannabis.

The History of Cannabis in NYC

Cannabis has been used for centuries for its medicinal and recreational purposes. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that cannabis started to become illegal in the United States. Cannabis was first banned in New York City in 1914. The legislation was proposed by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and it passed with little opposition. The main reason for the ban was to stop people of color and immigrants from using cannabis.

Cannabis remained illegal in NYC for almost a century. In 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis. This means that people caught with small amounts of cannabis will no longer be arrested, but will instead be given a summons. This is a big step forward, but it does not make cannabis legal in NYC.

Currently, there are two bills that have been proposed to make cannabis legal in NYC. The first bill, Intro 1476-A, would allow adults 21 and over to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis. The second bill, Intro 1248-A, would go one step further and establish a regulated system of legal cannabis dispensaries in NYC. These bills are still being debated by the NYC Council and it is unclear if or when they will be passed into law.

Even if these bills are passed, it is important to remember that cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. This means that people who purchase or use cannabis in NYC could still be prosecuted by the federal government.

Cannabis is currently illegal in New York City, but the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized. Possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis is a violation, punishable by a fine of $100. However, possession of more than 25 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in jail and a fine of $500.

The Future of Cannabis in NYC

The future of cannabis in NYC is shrouded in uncertainty. While the state of New York has legalized recreational cannabis use, the city has yet to pass any legislation regulating its use. This means that, for the time being, cannabis is technically legal in NYC – but there are no laws governing where or how it can be purchased, grown, or consumed.

This could all change in the near future, as the city council is currently considering a number of bills that would regulate cannabis use in NYC. However, it remains to be seen whether these bills will pass, and if so, what form they will take. In the meantime, cannabis users in NYC should proceed with caution and be aware that they may be subject to prosecution if they are caught using or possessing cannabis.


Cannabis is not currently legal in New York City, but the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized. This means that you cannot be arrested or jailed for possessing small amounts of marijuana, but you can still be subject to a fine. For more information, please see the NYC Cannabis Legalization FAQs.

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