New York could eventually join a growing number of states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The Empire State has already authorized limited use for medical purposes. State and local lawmakers and prosecutors have also moved to “decriminalize” possession of marijuana, a substance once considered a harmful drug. Because restrictions on marijuana are still complicated and in flux, however, it’s important to understand what you can and can’t do when it comes to pot. It’s also crucial that anyone charged with a marijuana crime consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
Current Law on Marijuana
The possession of marijuana by anyone who doesn’t have a valid medical prescription for cannabis is still a crime in New York. That’s true despite the fact that marijuana has been decriminalized in New York since 1977.
Here’s what decriminalization means. First, the penalties for the possession of relatively small amounts of weed have been reduced to a ticket and fine, similar to traffic violations. However, possession in “public view”—l ike when a person is caught smoking a joint on the street or marijuana is found during a police stop and frisk — remains at least a misdemeanor offense, and in some cases a felony. Officials in New York City and some other localities have instructed police to cut down on “public possession” arrests. Prosecutors in Albany County are said to be considering a similar approach. New York has also commissioned a task force to consider legalizing marijuana. In the meantime, prosecution for these crimes remains a possibility.
The penalties for marijuana possession vary widely based on the amount of the drug involved and how many times you’ve been previously caught. A first-time offender caught with 25 grams of marijuana or less is looking at a $100 fine. Get busted with a pound or more of pot and you’re facing a felony charge that comes with up to seven years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Selling weed of any amount is also considered a felony.
Talk With an Experienced Albany Drug Crime Lawyer
Despite the moves to cut restrictions on marijuana, a weed possession or distribution charge is a serious criminal offense that can come with significant consequences for the person charged and his or her family. That’s why anyone suspected of or charged with a marijuana crime in the Capital District should seek the advice of an experienced Albany drug crime lawyer. An attorney can help you weigh your options and start building the strongest possible defense, in some cases before you’ve even been charged with a crime.
James E. Tyner is an experienced attorney who has been representing clients in drug and other criminal cases for more than a decade. Mr. Tyner has a strong track record of getting optimal results for the people that he represents. Contact us online or call 518-783-3800 to schedule a free consultation.