Health

Legal Weed Selling In New York City

After a years-long battle to decriminalize the drug, New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana on March 31. Officers in the New York Police Department have been directed not to stop and arrest persons who are smoking marijuana in public. Along the borders of Bryant Park and Herald Square Park, new “No smoking of any type” signs have blossomed alongside daffodils and hyacinths.

But New Yorkers won’t be able to go out and buy a few spliffs from the best online weed dispensary just soon. In addition, pot dealers who want to expand and become legal may have to wait more than a year to obtain a license. Naturally, any new regulation, especially one as highly scrutinized as the legalization and decriminalization of a previously prohibited narcotic that has the potential to fuel a multibillion-dollar agglomeration economy, raises a slew of problems. State officials will write laws over the next few months that will determine what kind of marijuana you may buy, where you can use it, and who can sell it to you. Many details have still to be ironed out, but here’s what we do know thus far.

No, not at all. If you’re 21 and older, you can have up to three ounces of marijuana, which is the equivalent of 50 to 75 joints (or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis), and consume it anywhere you can light a cigarette. However, until state officials develop guidelines for recreational use of marijuana, you won’t be able to buy it without a prescription or sell it without a license.

According to a document provided to NYPD officers, police cannot arrest you for carrying a tiny amount of marijuana, and prosecutors will not put you through the system. Cops can’t arrest someone with selling marijuana unless they see money pass hands, but it’s still illegal to drive while high on marijuana, and cops can pull you over for it.

Of course, changing policing behaviors overnight is difficult. “We’ve always said that legalizing marijuana won’t eliminate racial policing by itself, but it does remove a tool that has been used for far too long to justify summonses and arrests,” Melissa Moore, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said.

Smoking is prohibited in parks, pools, and beaches and is punishable by a $50 fine. Under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, you can smoke anyplace cigarette smoking is permitted, but there are some murky spots. Offices, restaurants, pubs, the subway, ferries, and schools are all off limits, and if you’re caught, you’ll face a $25 fine or 20 hours of community service. Because the structures are federally sponsored and subject to federal law, public-housing units and their grounds are prohibited, but supporters are challenging this portion of the statute. Unless your landlord forbids smoking, that leaves sidewalks, streets, the inside of a parked car, your roof, and your home.

Be considerate in all you do. “The first step is to smoke appropriately,” said Saki Fenderson, a cannabis educator and activist based in Brooklyn. “You wouldn’t want certain odors or cigarettes entering your home.” Just accept that you share your home with other people.”

Officials estimate that recreational marijuana will be sold in stores in 18 months, while other businesses anticipate sales will not begin until December 2022. “There is no licensing of legal marijuana being cultivated or sold now,” said Manhattan state Senator Liz Krueger, who authored the legalization bill. “So if you buy it the way you always bought it, it’s still an unlawful commodity.” “There isn’t really a penalty for buying less than three ounces, but there could be if you sell it.”

That isn’t a good plan. Even though recreational marijuana is now legal in 17 states (New Mexico and Virginia followed New York in approving it), transporting the drug across state lines is illegal under federal law. Those caught with less than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) for the first time face a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Obtaining a prescription from your doctor and visiting a dispensary is the easiest way under the new law. Beyond cancer, chronic pain, and HIV/AIDS, the state has added anxiety, insomnia, muscular dystrophy, and Alzheimer’s disease to the list of medical disorders that can be treated with a prescription. Visit my.ny.gov to register for the state’s medical marijuana program once your doctor has certified you as a patient.

Some doctors may be against the scheme and refuse to register with the authorities. Fortunately, there are many doctors who support the use of marijuana for medical purposes (here’s a list), and telemedicine has made it easier to contact them. You can also receive a medical marijuana card through virtual providers like PrestoDoctor and NuggMD, but you’ll need identification and evidence of residency.

As of November, there were ten medical marijuana companies running 38 dispensaries, including 12 in New York City. A prescription is required for a limited number of oils, ointments, pills, powders, vaporizers, and chewable gummies, and not every dispensary has all of them. The new law will allow dispensaries to sell a greater range of items, including complete flower, which is the dried bud of a marijuana plant, as well as a wider range of edibles. This is significant for customers because smokeable flower is significantly less expensive than processed items, which can range from $80 to $100 to $350 and are not covered by insurance. “Edibles have a greater cost than extract or flower, but overall, medical product costs will fall down from where they are now,” said Hillary Peckham, CEO of Etain Health, a medical marijuana company. “I’d like to be able to offer all of my goods for both medicinal and adult use.” There’s a financial benefit for people treating their ailments, especially since insurance won’t cover cannabis because it’s illegal on the federal level.”

Existing medical marijuana businesses can swiftly create and package smokeable flower, but the state health department could take 60 to 90 days to approve a new product request. Thousands of COVID-19 tests are being flooded into the health labs intended to test the safety of new marijuana products. Some new health labs may expand in the meantime, but according to Katharine Neer, a government policy attorney with the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, it takes about a month to run tests on whole flower and new edible products and iron out any kinks with the operator before the Department of Health gives its final approval. Smokeable flower is expected to be accessible in medical marijuana stores this summer, according to experts.

You can grow up to six marijuana plants per household, three mature and three seedlings, or up to 12 if you cohabit with another adult. You won’t be able to grow them immediately soon, though. If you’re a medical marijuana patient, you’ll have to wait six months after the law takes effect before you can start growing. Everyone else must wait 18 months for the market to grow after the first adult-use dispensary opens. The specifics of how seedlings and mature plants will be produced and marketed, as well as permits for marijuana nurseries, are still being worked out.

Entrepreneurs will be able to apply to the state for licenses to open storefront dispensaries, hookah bar-style consumption lounges, bakeries, restaurants, yoga studios, hotels, and wellness centers in the future, as long as they do not sell alcohol. Several existing medical marijuana companies have already announced plans to sell marijuana to the general public, despite the fact that they are only allowed to open up to eight dispensaries, with only three of them approved to sell recreational products and two of them having to be in underserved areas. According to a report released in February by the Center for New York City Affairs, the marijuana sector could produce $2.6 billion in sales and support 50,806 jobs in as little as six years.

Yes, but that could take some time as well. Although district attorneys in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan have mostly stopped pursuing low-level marijuana offenses, there are approximately 108,000 marijuana-related cases that must be expunged from people’s records. According to an Office of Court Administration official, the number of cases might climb to 150,000 once all data are evaluated, and expunging the records could take up to two years. There have been discussions inside the court system about expediting petitions for those who need to pass a background check for a job, housing, or a loan, but there is no formal mechanism in place until you call your borough’s court.

State officials have established a goal of awarding half of all licenses to women-owned enterprises, disadvantaged farmers, and disabled veterans. Furthermore, proceeds from the sale of cannabis will be given to schools, drug treatment programs, and community organizations in places where drug enforcement has had a negative impact. The Office of Cannabis Management will also provide grants, loans, and business development training to entrepreneurs, however marijuana advocates are already concerned that medical corporations will gain an early start and dominate the market. “You can accomplish the social justice aim if we do it in such a way that everyone rolls out at the same time.” What are you going to do if you don’t roll out at the same time?” Fenderson, a cannabis educator from Brooklyn, agreed.

Marijuana cooperatives are an excellent place to begin. They’re attempting to persuade officials to allow them to grow, process, and sell marijuana directly to customers from their co-op location, which is now prohibited. Co-ops also allow people to pool their resources, including those with bad credit or criminal backgrounds, and gain access to a larger share of money than they could otherwise. Emily Ramos, a member of the Bronx-based women-owned co-op Hi Mi Madre, stated, “We had anticipated entering the legal market, and our objective is to be vertically integrated.” “We have a right to know that the process is quality controlled, and the only way to do that is to cultivate the plant ourselves.”

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