Learn more about marijuana in New York

New York State first prohibited the purchase of marijuana without a valid prescription in 1914. One hundred years later, the state passed its most extensive overhaul of New York marijuana laws only to come full circle -- pot would again require a prescription to purchase. So goes the story of marijuana laws in New York State. From 1914 to 1927, the state of New York had what you could call one of the country's first medical marijuana markets, but, like Massachusetts, which had also enacted a ban on "Indian hemp," the first U.S. state to do so, drug laws of the early 1900s were primarily a response to trade pressures and latent racism against the drug's largely Mexican user base, who had begun to immigrate into the U.S. in record numbers starting at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In 1927, New York State banned cannabis outright, along with Idaho, Kansas, Montana and Nebraska that year. A decade later, in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act banned marijuana nationwide on a technicality: all cannabis sales were to be taxed, but the stamps used to pay the tax made it illegal to possess marijuana but not the stamps, which would very quickly earn anyone attempting to buy the tax stamps a visit from local authorities.

While the Marihuana Tax Act still allowed the medicinal use of cannabis under increasingly restrictive regulations, Congress did away with all medical marijuana, and any other marijuana use, with the Controlled Substances act of 1970, which prohibited the drug nationwide.

Back in New York, marijuana laws would shortly become the nation's toughest yet.

On May 8, 1973, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed a bill that increased penalties for the possession and sale of marijuana and other drugs following sweeping anxieties against issues raised by the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The new law, which could earn a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison for the sale of just two ounces and the possession of just four ounces of marijuana, gave New York State the most punitive drug laws in the country.

FAQs

Is Marijuana Legal in New York?

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Laws

Marijuana is Legal

Purchase and Possession Limits

Growing Marijuana at Home

Marijuana and Driving

New York Dispensaries

Click the map to explore dispensaries in New York.



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