Marijuana has been legal in New York state since 2021, but the level of confusion remains high as to what is and isn’t permitted under the new cannabis regulations.

Let’s cut to the most clear part of the law: New Yorkers aged 21 and over are legally able to possess up to 3 ounces of pot or 24 grams of cannabis concentrate. They can smoke it or vape it— for the most part—wherever cigarettes are permitted.

Where the confusion truly begins, however, is the method by which New Yorkers can get it in the first place, since all sales are illegal except those made by state-licensed dispensaries.

The state, excluding medical dispensaries, only permits stores with “adult-use recreational dispensary licenses” to sell it. In New York state, there are presently only seven stores that have opened with such licenses, with just four in New York City — though more are slated to open in the near future.

In New York City, the first licensed recreational dispensary didn’t open until December 2022, nearly 2 years after cannabis was decriminalized by the state via the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

Given the delay, an illegal market has mushroomed — with street vendors, truck drivers and others illegally getting in on the action. Law enforcement estimates that there are approximately 1,400 smoke shops and illegal storefronts that are peddling it across the five boroughs. Some operators are selling it out of sleek looking stores that appear to be legitimate, while others are just dealing from tacky bodegas looking to cash in on the state’s legalization of the product.

While buying from an unlicensed vendor is illegal, once the transaction is done, consumers are legally able to possess it—up to 3 ounces. This created a quirk in the law that illegal vendors are exploiting with ease. Read the full article here 

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