The marijuana situation in the United States has grown complex. For decades, it was illegal at the state level in every state, and it was illegal at the federal level. Some states brought on medical marijuana exceptions, but recreational use was still illegal.
That’s been changing in the last few years, as legal recreational use now spreads across the United States. Marijuana is treated, in many ways, like alcohol. The sale is controlled and taxed, buyers have to be old enough, and illegal sales are still barred. But people can buy marijuana at dispensaries without a special license or a medical need.
Where does New York stand?
What makes this complicated is that, while New York is expected to embrace these legal marijuana rules, it has not done so yet. Medical use is allowed, but full legality does not exist.
It does, however, in nearby Vermont and Massachusetts. With just a bit further of a drive, New York residents can legally buy in places like Michigan or Maine.
While going to these places and buying marijuana is fine and legal, New York residents must note that it is still illegal in the state. They cannot buy it elsewhere and then bring it back into New York. The moment they do, it becomes illegal under New York law and they can be arrested. Simply saying that it was a legal purchase in Vermont or anywhere else does not make it legal to own everywhere.
Plus, crossing state lines is still problematic since marijuana is illegal at the federal level. Driving across the border to buy it could open a New York resident up to serious criminal charges.
What are your options?
It’s easy to see how these different laws could create confusion and accidental lawbreaking. If you assume that you made a legal purchase and it’s no problem to come home to New York, you could get arrested without ever knowing you did anything wrong. At times like these, it is crucial to understand your legal options.