In the News: Changes to NYC Marijuana Policy

Last week we talked about dumb marijuana assumptions people get themselves into trouble with. As we did, NYC lawmakers were busy shifting their approach to how marijuana will be handled within city limits. As of September 1st the city will hand out tickets instead of making arrests for most cases of public marijuana consumption.

New York City is changing its policies on marijuana arrests, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some real legal pitfalls for those who choose to indulge.

Note this is similar to a policy that was already in place. It simply allows residents to “get caught” with a larger quantity of weed than they would have been able to get away with receiving a ticket for previously. (Or, at least, get caught with, without going to jail.)

The policy is expected to cut marijuana arrests by 10,000 per year, but that doesn’t mean marijuana in New York can’t expose you to serious criminal consequences. Even if you only get a ticket, you need a lawyer. Here’s why.

Cops can still arrest you, at their discretion.

If they arrest you, you’re looking at the same charges you would have been looking at before the policy change.

Certain risk factors make it more likely you’ll be arrested.

“City residents who get caught smoking and have open warrants, are on parole or probation, have recently been arrested for violent crimes or don’t have ID could still get cuffed. Plus, if an officer thinks someone is putting the public in danger, say, by lighting up behind the wheel, or while riding public transit, they can still be arrested.” –Vice

Remember this is a policy change, not a law change. Officers are being encouraged to take a certain course of action, but they can continue to enforce the law the old way at their discretion.  

Second offenses still open you right up to jail time.

The first time you might end up with an $100 fine and a problematic black mark on your record. The second time you could still be looking at up to three years of jail time.

This is why we recommend getting legal counsel from the moment you get that first ticket. This new move is not legalization, and you could still be in a lot of trouble from the moment you’re ordered to appear in court.

The DEA is adamant they will continue to make their own marijuana arrests.

While the DEA rarely comes down hard on some average Joe smoking a blunt in public it’s important to remember marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Until those policies change you’re still in danger of winding up in big trouble if you choose to indulge.

The DEA has made it very clear they don’t care about the NYC policy change and will continue to conduct business as usual.

Do you use marijuana? Protect your freedom with the help of a qualified NYC criminal defense attorney.  

Marijuana charges can change your life, and not for the better. A qualified marijuana defense attorney could be the only thing that stands between you and your freedom. Until marijuana is 100% legal in the state and the nation you are in danger. Program our number into your phone and make sure you have it handy in the event of a ticket or an arrest. There are many defenses we can use to help you keep your life after you’ve been threatened with criminal charges. Contact us today.  


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