The Kessler Law Firm

Marijuana Legislation and Driving in NY

New York has legalized marijuana. The law allows New Yorkers to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use. People with certain marijuana-related convictions will have their records expunged immediately. 


New Yorkers are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational use or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, such as oils derived from a cannabis plant.


People who are 21 and older are allowed to use, smoke, ingest or consume cannabis products; they can also give them to others who meet the same age requirement.


At home people will be permitted to store up to five pounds of cannabis, but they will have to take “reasonable steps” to make sure it is stored in a secure place.


There are penalties, ranging from a simple violation to a felony, for possessing more than the permitted amount of cannabis and for selling the drug without a license. 


People are legally allowed to smoke in public wherever smoking tobacco is legal. Smoking cannabis is not permitted in schools, workplaces or inside a car. An officer, however, is not allowed to use the smell of cannabis as a justification to stop and search a pedestrian. 


What About Impaired Driving?


It remains illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, just as its illegal to drive while intoxicated by alcohol, and the police will still be able to pull people over who they believed were impaired.


An officer can use the smell of burned cannabis as a reason to suspect that a driver is under the influence, but he or she is only allowed to search parts of the car that are readily accessible to the driver, so no the trunk, for example. 


Unlike with alcohol, there is currently no easy way to quickly and reliably measure whether a person is under the influence of cannabis, especially since traces of the drug can stay in someone’s system after the high has worn off.