A timeline of when New Yorkers can smoke marijuana, grow it, and sell it legally

new york when is weed legal timeline
A man holds a sign at a pro-legalization rally outside of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office in Manhattan
  • Some aspects of NY's cannabis legalization bill take effect immediately, while others are delayed.
  • Smoking marijuana is now fully legal wherever tobacco can be smoked.
  • But you won't be able to buy recreational marijuana in a store until mid-to-late 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Now that New York has legalized marijuana for recreational use, a new landscape is set to emerge for consumers.

Cannabis was already available for medical use and largely decriminalized in the Empire State. Still, the new law has some changes that will be more pronounced than others in daily life.

The timing of what becomes legal when can also be confusing. Retail sales of marijuana aren't set to begin until mid-to-late 2022, for example.

In part, that's because specific regulations need to be written by the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board. Those bodies are responsible for regulating the industry under the new law.

Here's everything you need to know about when you can do what under New York's new weed law:

Table of Contents: Static

Immediately: New Yorkers can now smoke marijuana outside in the same places where cigarette smoking is allowed

In 2019, smoking weed in New York became an offense that's only punishable by a fine, and pedestrians in New York City can attest to its prevalence, regardless of the laws on the books.

Now, "if you can smoke tobacco there, you could smoke marijuana there," according to the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat.

Smoking in schools, workplaces, and cars is still illegal, however. The Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board may create further regulations that put more limits on where New Yorkers can smoke. Local municipalities may also choose to enforce stricter rules.

Immediately: New Yorkers will be allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis

Under the new law, possession also becomes legal immediately. Adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrates.

Immediately: Marijuana offenses from non-violent convictions will begin to be expunged from criminal records

New York lawmakers said they would begin to automatically expunge records for people with previous marijuana-related convictions. The records that would qualify for expungement would include any activities that are "no longer criminalized" under New York law.

Soon: A new regulatory body will be chosen to oversee cannabis in New York

The law creates an Office of Cannabis Management and a Cannabis Control Board to regulate the industry. The board will have five members, three of whom will be appointed by the governor. Each legislative house will choose one member.

It's not yet clear who will serve in these roles, but members are expected to be chosen soon as lawmakers have indicated that they hope for a fast roll out.

Norman Birenbaum, New York's director of cannabis programs, and Axel Bernabe, an assistant counsel to Cuomo, have been the governor's point people on cannabis reform and are expected to have a big hand in the state's cannabis program moving forward.

Soon: New York's medical program will expand

The new law also expands New York's existing medical-cannabis program. The list of qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis will be expanded, along with product options. Flower products, which are not allowed under New York's medical program, may be permitted under the expansions.

Patients and advocates have long fought for these changes.

Changes to New York's medical program may happen faster than when recreational sales are expected to roll out. However, an exact date is still unknown.

Soon: New York adults will be allowed to grow cannabis plants at home

New Yorkers over the age of 21 will eventually be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants at home, with a maximum of three mature and three immature plants per adult. Each household, no matter the number of adults, will be limited to 12 plants.

By the end of 2021: Localities can opt out of allowing cannabis businesses, but not legalization

Localities within New York will be allowed to opt out of having cannabis businesses. They have until the end of this year to make this decision.

However, no locality will be allowed to prohibit cannabis overall.

Sometime in 2022: You can go to a store to buy a gummy or pre-roll

Adult-use cannabis sales won't begin anytime soon.

Andrew Carter, an analyst at Stifel, said he expects recreational cannabis sales to begin in late 2022. Norman Birenbaum, New York's director of cannabis programs, told Insider in February that he expects a program to be rolled out in 12-18 months, based on timelines in other states that have legalized.

That means if you want to purchase cannabis products at a licensed retailer, you'll likely have to wait until summer or fall of next year.

Birenbaum said he expects it will take three to four years to create a market with the cultivation capacity and dispensary numbers to meet the demands of consumers.

Sometime in 2022: New Yorkers will be allowed to partake in cannabis at 'consumption lounges' and have weed delivered to their homes

The state plans to set up a new license that would allow people to consume marijuana on-site at various locations. Licenses for on-site consumption are limited to three per person, and owners of these licenses may not be able to qualify for other licenses, such as cultivation or retail.

New Yorkers will also be able to order cannabis products straight to their homes. More regulations around consumption lounges and cannabis delivery are expected later.

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