Cannabis is legal in New York for adults 21 and older, but that doesn't mean you can use it anywhere you want. Cannabis can be consumed in a private home or at a state-licensed on-site consumption site (coming soon). But that doesn't mean New Yorkers over the age of 21 can walk into a store in all five boroughs and legally buy marijuana on New Year's Day. But whether it comes from a winery, dispensary, or retailer, any non-medical cannabis product sold in New York at this time remains unregulated.
Some legalization advocates say they are concerned that having cannabis available in physical stores gives undue legitimacy to products that are not yet reliable. The law creates retail licenses, paving the way for physical dispensaries where people can buy cannabis products. Localities can choose not to allow dispensaries and will have until the end of the year to do so. Once the regulations are finalized, certified medical cannabis program patients will also be able to grow up to six plants at a time at home.
New York legalized marijuana use this spring, and by the end of the year, cities and towns across the state must individually decide whether to allow cannabis dispensaries and “on-site use.” A town, city or town determined to directly ban or restrict marijuana must adopt a local law that calls for the prohibition of dispensaries or consumption rooms in its jurisdiction. Until then, marijuana can only be legally purchased from medical marijuana dispensaries by consumers who have the appropriate authorization cards. For the time being, only people who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses in New York will get the first licenses to open cannabis dispensaries in the state. Meanwhile, New Jersey's initial legal sales will take place at medical marijuana dispensaries for all adults 21 and older one week starting Thursday.
Street Lawyer Services is one of several unlicensed marijuana dispensaries that have appeared on the Lower East Side in recent months. Some of the dispensaries that have opened are seeking to exploit loopholes in the state's Marijuana Tax and Regulation Act to argue that they are operating legally. In addition to being on sale in Washington Square Park and some wineries and smoke stores, marijuana is now sold in dedicated dispensaries.