NYS Penal Law

MRTA modifies criminal violations and penalties relating to the sale and possession of cannabis.

  • Personal Possession: Adults 21 years of age and older may possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis (like vaporization oil or an edible).

  • Cannabis and Police Searches: The MRTA changes how the odor or presence of cannabis can be used to determine reasonable cause by law enforcement. No finding or determination of reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed can be based solely on or in combination with the odor of cannabis or burnt cannabis, the possession of cannabis in amounts in accordance with state law, cash or currency present next to cannabis or multiple containers of cannabis, and planting or growing cannabis in accordance with NYS law. This law does not apply to an investigation of a person who operates a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis; however the odor of burnt cannabis shall not provide probable cause to search any area of a vehicle that is not readily accessible to the driver and reasonably likely to contain evidence relevant to the driver’s condition.

  • Home Cultivation of Cannabis: New Yorkers 21+ can grow up to 6 cannabis plants in their home for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants) and a maximum of twelve plants per household (6 mature plants and 6 immature plants). Please be aware the home cultivation of cannabis is not allowed immediately. Home cultivation of cannabis is only permitted after the OCM issues regulations governing home cultivation of cannabis (which will occur within 18 months of the first adult-use retail sale).

Community Reinvestment and Correcting the Harms of Cannabis Prohibition

MRTA automatically expunges a previous cannabis conviction(s) from an individual’s record—any marijuana conviction for conduct which is now legal under the law:

• Violation(s) of Penal Law Article 220 or § 240.36 (prior to the effective date of Penal Law Article 221), where the sole controlled substance involved was marihuana and the conviction was only for a misdemeanor and/or violation

• Offenses of Penal Law § 221.05 or 221.10 (prior to the effective date of L. 2019, Chapter 132)

• Offenses under former Penal Law §§ 221.05, 221.10, 221.15, 221.20, 221.35, or 221.40

• Offenses under Penal Law §§ 240.37

• Violation(s) of Penal Law § 220.03 or 220.06 (prior to the effective date of MRTA), where the sole controlled substance involved was concentrated cannabis

• Offenses under Penal Law §§ 222.10, 222.15, 222.25 or 222.45.

Individuals who qualify for expungement are not required to take any further action to have their records expunged.

Additionally, the MRTA rethinks how cannabis should be regulated, removing provisions that have routinely been used to over-police and criminalize communities and people of color. Except for limited circumstances, the odor of cannabis can no longer be used as a pretext to further investigate a crime and the prohibition on using cannabis in public has been eliminated, reducing the interactions between communities of color and law enforcement.

The criminal penalties and corresponding possession limits for cannabis have been intentionally set at levels that only criminalize the possession or sale of large quantities of cannabis, clearly not intended for personal use. Additionally, the MRTA includes provisions allowing New Yorkers 21+ to grow their own cannabis at their personal residence, once regulations pertaining to home grow have been promulgated by the CCB.