If you're visiting the Big Apple or you're a proud resident of the Empire State, you may be wondering how old you have to be to smoke weed in New York. Cannabis was decriminalized in New York in 1977, with the passage of the New York State Marijuana Reform Act, and in 2014 the state adopted the Compassionate Care Act to make medical marijuana (MM) legal for qualifying patients.
Yet the state doesn't explicitly condone the smoking of medicinal weed, as only non-smokable and non-edible cannabis products are allowed to be sold in the handful of licensed New York dispensaries. New York only allows MM patients who are at least 18 years old to consume their cannabis products in private residences, and they can have up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana flowers, but they can't grow any for themselves. Minors under the age of 18 with a qualifying medical condition can get an MM card through a state-recognized caregiver; a legal guardian who is at least 21 years old.
In New York, adults at least 18 years of age caught in possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana are typically punished with a ticket and a fine, but that leniency of decriminalization ends if you're actually caught smoking weed out in public. Also, possessing less than an ounce of weed was downgraded from a misdemeanor to a violation in New York City in November of 2014. However, recreational cannabis looks poised to pass in the Empire State, as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) would end prohibition of the herb for adults (both residents and visitors alike) who are at least 21 years of age.
To end, despite the fact that cannabis is decriminalized in New York, it's best to smoke weed discreetly, and it's still illegal to transport cannabis out of the state in any way. It's also illegal to smoke weed, consume marijuana, or be under the influence of cannabis while driving a motorized vehicle. You can learn more about the rules for consuming cannabis in Empire State's Medical Marijuana Program by consulting the New York State Department of Health.