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Marijuana is a controversial topic; the laws and regulations surrounding its use, possession, and distribution vary greatly from state to state. In New York State, the laws and policies surrounding marijuana have evolved over time and continue to be a topic of debate. This breakdown will examine the history of marijuana legislation in New York State, its impact, current laws, and economic opportunities.

History of Marijuana Legalization in New York State

Cannabis was originally restricted to only medical use in New York back in 1914. It was then outlawed altogether from 1927 until 2014. In early 2014, Governor Cuomo signed new legislation that enacted marijuana laws in New York. The new law allowed limited medical use of marijuana in the state. This slight relaxation of legal legislation against the use of marijuana opened doors to the possibility of marijuana legalization in New York.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in New York State has been on the cards in Albany since 2013. This is when Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes first introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Since then, the duo has been introducing the bill, and on every occasion, it has failed to get the necessary support to pass both chambers.

In 2014, under the Compassionate Care Act, New York State legalized the use of medical marijuana by registered patients. Between 2016 and 2018, cannabis medical uses were expanded significantly to treat chronic pain. It was also listed as a therapy for treating opioid addiction and a treatment for PTSD.

How Has the Legalization of Marijuana in Nearby States Impacted New York State’s Laws and Policies?

Legalizing marijuana in nearby states has impacted marijuana laws in New York. The state government is now under pressure to emulate neighboring states as they are ripping big from marijuana legalization. One of the arguments against the legalization of marijuana in New York is that its disadvantages outweigh its benefits. 

However, this has not been the case with the neighboring states that have already legalized marijuana. In fact, these states have benefited significantly from the legalization as opposed to suffering setbacks. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana in nearby states has put immense pressure on New York State to adopt a similar system.

What Does Legalization Entail for People in New York?

Just as the legalization of marijuana in California steamrolled the process within the US, legal marijuana in New York comes with several significant changes for its people. New Yorkers can use cannabis for recreational purposes but only up to three ounces. Alternatively, they can have 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, which include oils derived from cannabis plants. New Yorkers aged 21 or older are allowed to smoke, use, consume, or ingest cannabis products. 

They can also share the products with others with the same requirements. Thanks to legalization, people can store up to five pounds of cannabis at home. However, they must take the necessary steps to ensure the cannabis is stored safely and out of the reach of children. If a person is found in possession of more than the permitted amount of cannabis, they can face penalties ranging from a simple policy violation to a felony. A person can also face such charges when they sell drugs without a license.

What Economic Opportunities and Challenges Come with Marijuana Legalization in New York State?

The legalization of marijuana in New York State comes with many economic opportunities. For instance, the state government will generate money from marijuana legalization. The annual projected revenue after marijuana legalization is between $248.1 and $340.6 million. This money can be diverted to social welfare projects where it can improve locals’ lives.

Besides, marijuana legalization will significantly reduce the state’s expenditure on prosecuting marijuana users. There will also be enough jail spaces as arrests related to cannabis will be reduced.

Some of the challenges that come with marijuana legalization include the increase in impaired judgment and concentration. Studies have also shown a significant increase in motor accidents due to these effects. Accidental marijuana exposure among children and adolescents is also something to worry about.


In conclusion, the laws and policies surrounding marijuana in New York State are complex and have evolved over time. Currently, marijuana possession and use are decriminalized in some states, resulting in a functional medical marijuana program. However, the state has yet to legalize marijuana for recreational use fully. While the legalization of marijuana has the potential to bring economic benefits, it also comes with the risk of a few setbacks, as discussed here.

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