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Marijuana Defense

Cannabis is the most commonly used substance in New York City that is also illegal to possess under federal and, in more cases, state law. As of 2014, New York State is developing rules that will lead to the legalization of small amounts of non-smokable medical marijuana for certain patients.

Charges relating to marijuana can include possessing a small amount, which is a non-criminal violation, to trafficking, which is a serious felony carrying a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Even minor offenses, though, should be taken seriously. For any accusation, your best strategy is to contact a skilled marijuana defense attorney to represent you.

Manhattan Marijuana Defense Lawyer

At Greco Neyland, PC, we represent clients on any charge relating to cannabis, from non-criminal violations to felonies. We will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your arrest and challenge the evidence prosecutors bring forward, seeking to have charges reduced or dismissed. We have worked as prosecutors, so we understand both sides of the criminal courtroom and will put that knowledge to work for you.

Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation with a Manhattan marijuana defense lawyer. We also represent clients in Brooklyn (Kings County) as well as all other boroughs in the New York area.


New York Marijuana Defense Information Center


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Charges for Possession of Cannabis

While it remains illegal to possess marijuana under New York law, possession of a small amount, less than 25 grams, outside of “plain view” is no longer a criminal offense. It is instead a “violation.”

An officer will issue a “desk appearance ticket” (DAT) instead of arresting a person accused of possessing this amount of marijuana. The ticket will give a date by which the person ticketed must respond. If they do not respond by that date, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Even for a DAT, you will need a qualified defense attorney to help you out. Do not try to handle it yourself.

Penalties for these offenses may seem light: $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second, $250 and up to 15 days in jail for a third or subsequent offense. However, there are hidden penalties. The offense will stay on your record, and could have a profound effect on people with professional licenses and students seeking financial aid.

Many people are eligible for an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). With an ACD, you may perform some community service hours and pay a fine, and the violation is dismissed. We can negotiate with prosecutors for an ACD if that is your best course of action to take on your particular case. However, an ACD is not an automatic. A skilled defense attorney must still negotiate to obtain an ACD, if this is the plan for your case. It will not be offered just because.

If the possession is alleged to be in “plain view,” (i.e. you are accused of smoking a joint in public) you will face class B misdemeanor charges. The same applies if you are alleged to have between 25 grams and two ounces. These charges can result in up to 3 months in jail or a year of probation, and a fine of $250. Two to eight ounces is a class A misdemeanor.

Possession of more than eight ounces, or a half-pound, is a felony. The classifications for marijuana possession offenses in New York are as follows:

  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fifth Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.10 — It is a Class B misdemeanor if a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses more than 25 grams but less than two ounces of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.15 — It is a Class A misdemeanor if a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses more than two ounces but less than eight ounces of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.20 — It is a Class C felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses more than eight ounces but less than 16 ounces of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.25  — It is a Class D Felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses more than 16 ounces but less than 10 pounds of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.30 — It is a Class C felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses more than 10 pounds of marijuana

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Charges for Marijuana Distribution

While the possession of marijuana has been decriminalized to a certain degree, the sale has not. Similar to possession, criminal charges for marijuana distribution is determined by the weight of the cannabis sold.

“Selling” less than two grams is a class B misdemeanor if done without consideration; in other words, if the accused receives no money. This is essentially a penalty, in many cases, for giving away a joint. Selling anything less than 25 grams is a class A misdemeanor.

Anything beyond 25 grams is a felony. Felony charges may also be brought if you are accused of selling any amount of marijuana to a minor, with a minimum sentence of a year in jail and a potential of two and a half years in prison.

Operating as a “major trafficker” is a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. A person may be a major marijuana trafficker if he or she made $75,000 in proceeds or more in a year or less. The classifications for offenses involving the sale of marijuana in New York are as follows:

  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fifth Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.10 — It is a Class B misdemeanor if a person knowingly and unlawfully sells two grams or less of marijuana or one cigarette containing marihuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.15 — It is a Class A misdemeanor if a person knowingly and unlawfully sells more than two grams but less than 25 grams of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.20 — It is a Class C felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully sells more than 25 grams but less than four ounces of marijuana
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.25  — It is a Class D Felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully sells more than four ounces but less than 16 ounces of marijuana, or if he or she knowingly and unlawfully sells marihuana to a person less than 18 years of age
  • Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree, New York Penal Law § 221.30 — It is a Class C felony if a person knowingly and unlawfully sells more than 16 ounces of marijuana

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State of Medical Marijuana in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, legalizing medical marijuana in certain circumstances, in July 2014. The New York State Department of Health is currently in the process of implementing the program, including promulgating rules. Until this process is complete, marijuana remains illegal.

The law will provide people with certain conditions who go through the proper processes to acquire a 30-day supply of marijuana. Smoking the marijuana will not be an approved method of ingesting it.

Once the implementation process is complete, marijuana will still be illegal if not obtained through the program. This includes medical cannabis obtained in other states. If, for example, you obtain medical marijuana in New Jersey and then cross the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan, you could be arrested for possession.


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New York City Marijuana Crime Resources

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) — This website contains information about all of New York’s laws and penalties for marijuana offenses including possession, sale, trafficking, cultivation, and paraphernalia. There is also information about other legal issues, new releases, and ways to take action.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) — This organization works toward reforming marijuana laws across the United States, including lobbying Congress for legislation to replace prohibition and allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.

Compassionate Care NY (CCNY) — This is a statewide group working to establish a carefully regulated medical marijuana program in New York.

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Marijuana Attorney in New York City – Greco Neyland, PC

Do not take any New York City marijuana charge lightly, even a ticket (DAT). By looking carefully at the details surrounding your arrested, we may determine that the marijuana may have been found as the result of an illegal search or seizure. If the cannabis is suppressed as evidence, there’s a good chance your charges could be dropped. Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation.

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New York, NY 10017

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Jeff Greco
Jeffery Greco
Experience as a former prosecutor gives Jeffery Greco an edge in building the strongest possible defense strategy for the accused in New York City.
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Dustan Neyland
Dustan Neyland
A thorough investigation is key to finding every reasonable doubt and getting charges reduced or dismissed for NYC defense attorney Dustan Neyland.
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