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FAQs About The Cannabis Industry

What is the MRTA? 

On March 31, 2021, the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law, legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York State.  The law also created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) which regulates adult-use, medical, and hemp cannabis by the issuance of licenses to grow, sell and process cannabis. 

What are the different Cannabis Licenses in NY?

(1) Cultivator 

(2) Processor

(3) Distributor

(4) Retail Dispensary

(5) Delivery

(6) Microbusiness

(7) Onsite consumption

(8) Nursery

(9) Cooperative

But, for the time being, the OCM has only created a regulatory framework for a few licenses. The initial licenses that are available are The Conditional Cultivator License (Growing); The Conditional Processing License (processing extracts); and the Conditional Retail Dispensary License (distribute/sell). 

Who is prohibited from applying for a license? 

Previous convictions for drug-related offenses cannot be used as a reason for the denial of a license. However, MRTA instructs the OCM to deny licenses for applicants convicted of an offense related to owning and operating a business, including fraud and tax evasion. 

Can I grow cannabis plants for personal use?

Individuals are currently prohibited from any home cultivation until the OCM issues its regulations. Once the regulations are issued, New Yorkers 21 years and older can grow up to six plants in their home for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants) if they live alone and a maximum of 12 plants per household (6 mature plants and 6 immature plants), when there are multiple adults over the age of 21 in the same residence.  

Where is it safe to consume cannabis? 

Since the passage of MRTA, cannabis consumption for adults over 21 is legal. You are permitted to smoke, vape, and cannabis in public except where tobacco smoking is prohibited. Private property owners are permitted to prohibit cannabis consumption. 

Does the MRTA still carry criminal penalties for activity related to marijuana? 

Yes. Under the MRTA there are still two arrestable offenses: the sale [of marijuana and marijuana-related products]to a person under the age of 21 and the unlicensed sale of over a pound of marijuana. 

Additional activities listed in the New York Penal Law could result in a violation and a fine but not an arrest, including low-level unlicensed sale (sale of less than a pound of marijuana), possession of more than 2 pounds of marijuana or 4 and a half ounces of marijuana concentrates, and violation of the regulations for home cultivation (which currently means any home cultivation, until the regulations are released: see FAQ “Can I grow cannabis plants for personal use?” ). 

Lastly, smoking in public or places where smoking tobacco is currently prohibited will result in a fine. Law enforcement may continue to charge felonies for the most serious marijuana-related offenses, such as driving under the influence, transporting marijuana across state lines, and providing marijuana to minors.

I have a cannabis arrest since the passage of MRTA what’s the status of my conviction? 

Individuals who have been convicted of low-level possession (including possession in public view) and low-level sale will have that conviction vacated from their record. Other offenses related to possession or sale that were previously misdemeanors or felonies will be reclassified and/or sealed. People currently incarcerated for such offenses would either be released or have their offense reclassified and sentence appropriately reduced pursuant to the new statute.

What is New York State’s plan for funds acquired from legalization? 

 The growth, sale, and distribution of cannabis will be taxed at the state and the local level. The funds generated through this taxation will be used to conduct studies analyzing the impacts of marijuana legalization on public health, public safety, youth use, the state economy, the environment, and the criminal justice system. 

Additional funds will be distributed to study the efficacy of New York’s regulations and their success in ensuring diversity and inclusion in licensing. The remaining amounts will be distributed as follows: 25% to the state education department, 25% to the drug treatment and public education fund, and 50% to the establishment of a Community Grants Reinvestment Fund.

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