A criminal record can be an obstacle in many areas of life, especially if you are convicted of a drugs charge. Recent changes in New York’s cannabis laws will help many people move forward with a clean slate.
Under a law passed in March 2021, many people with criminal records for marijuana-related charges will have those records expunged. When a record is expunged, a person is legally considered to be in the same position they were in before they were arrested, charged, and convicted. In short, it is as if the conviction never happened. Under the new law, expungement is automatic—you do not need to do anything for it to take place—but the State will not automatically notify you if your record has been expunged.
Anyone convicted for 1st Degree Possession of Marijuana or 2nd Degree Possession of Marijuana on or before August 28, 2019 will have their record automatically expunged. People may still, however, have to pay fines associated with these convictions.
People who are unsure whether their records have been expunged can contact our Re-entry Project for help obtaining and reviewing a copy of their criminal record. The Re-entry Project can also help clients fix errors in their criminal history and apply for certificates for relief from civil disabilities or good conduct.
People 21 or older can now legally use, smoke, or ingest marijuana unless otherwise prohibited by State law. A good rule of thumb is that wherever it is legal to smoke tobacco, it is also legal to use marijuana. It is still illegal, however, to use marijuana in schools, workplaces, or in cars.
If you are 21 or older, it is now legal to transport up to three ounces of marijuana and up to 24 ounces of cannabis concentrate outside the home. Possessing more than that can result in fines. The smell of marijuana no longer justifies a law enforcement search of a person or their property. The smell of burned marijuana, however, still justifies a law enforcement search if an officer is investigating whether a person has operated a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
People 21 or older can now legally grow marijuana plants. This can only be done within a private residence or on private property. A single individual may cultivate up to three plants at any given time. A household may cultivate up to six plants at any given time. Anyone cultivating a marijuana plant must make sure that it is in a secure location and not accessible by anyone under 21. Violations of these restrictions may result in fines.
Marijuana possession, sale or use can still be prosecuted under Federal Law. Under New York Law, violating the above limits can also result in criminal charges.
All of our offices are now open to the public and accepting walk-ins.