Cannabis Law Overview

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Cannabis (also known as marijuana, pot, weed and more) is now legal in New York State for adults 21 and older, though legal adult-use sales are yet to start.

New York State has launched Cannabis Conversations to help New Yorkers understand the facts on the Cannabis Law, important information on health and safety, and the opportunities the new industry will create. 

New York State is building a new cannabis industry that protects public health and safety by providing access to safe, tested, regulated products and creates opportunity particularly for the communities most impacted by overcriminalization during the decades when cannabis was criminalized – a period we call cannabis “prohibition.”

This new industry will be based on the framework established by the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which created the Cannabis Law, and was enacted on March 31, 2021. The Cannabis Law put an end to approaching cannabis from a law enforcement perspective and replaced it with a focus on public health grounded in the principles of public safety, social justice, and equitable economic development designed to help undo the harm caused by cannabis prohibition.  

In 2020, the last year of prohibition, 90% of cannabis-related arrests in New York City were people of color – despite the fact that people of color use cannabis at the same rates as white people. With the enactment of the Cannabis Law, and the legalization of cannabis for those 21 years old and older, cannabis arrests have plummeted. Moreover, nearly 400,000 cannabis-related arrests and convictions have been removed from public records and are in the process of, or already have been, expunged.

Under the law, the Cannabis Control Board (the Board) and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will license cultivators, processors, distributors, and dispensaries to grow, manufacture and sell adult-use,  medical cannabis and certain hemp (CBD) products. For more information on licensing at the OCM, please go to:

To enhance consumer safety, the Board and the OCM are establishing quality assurance and product manufacturing standards, laboratory testing standards, and packaging and labeling requirements for cannabis and cannabis products. The Board and OCM will also create a social and economic equity program to encourage small businesses and individuals from communities disproportionally harmed by disparate cannabis enforcement to participate in the new industry. The Board and OCM are currently developing regulations for the adult-use industry that will guide these programs and safely, equitably stand up this new industry in New York. For more information on the careers and opportunities the industry will bring in, please go to: Cannabis Workforce Development | Department of Labor

You have questions, so let’s talk. Read the Cannabis Conversation topics.