Everything You Need to Know About New York City’s New Marijuana Possession Policy


The New York City Police Department announced Monday that officers will be adopting new guidelines when it comes to marijuana possession stops. What does that mean for you? Here’s what you need to know, you goddamn hippie:

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When do the new guidelines go into effect? November 19, 2014

How much weed can I be caught with? 25 grams or less.

How much is that? About a sandwich bag full.

OK, so if I have less than that I’ll be totally cool? Yes, unless there is an active warrant out for your arrest, or you are wanted in connection with an active investigation, or if you are charged with another finger-printable offense, or — importantly — if you don’t have identification on you. Or if there are other signs that you might be dealing, like if you’re loitering near a school or playground, for instance.

Otherwise I’ll just get a ticket? Yes, and you’ll have to pay a fine.

How much is the ticket? For a first offense, up to $100.

Hmm, OK — how much is a second ticket? Up to $250, if it’s within two years.

Come to think of it — what’s the street value of 25 grams? About $300.

Hm. Interesting. Isn’t it? It doesn’t seem like that big of a deterrent, but

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So I just pay the fine and that’s it? You’ll have to show up in court. If you don’t, a bench warrant could be issued for your arrest.

What if I have more than 25 grams? (Asking for a friend!) If the officer determines it’s more than 25 grams, you’ll be arrested and charged not just with possession, but with possession with intent to distribute — a class B felony.

How much time is that? One to nine years, if convicted.

What if they give me a ticket, but then the officer weighs it later when she’s back at the precinct and it’s actually more than 25 grams — what happens then? You probably won’t be arrested — the NYPD says they would rather keep cops on the street than worry about tracking you down again.

What’s going to happen to my weed? It will be seized and vouchered.

This is all a good thing, right? Well, that’s a matter of some debate… More on that in our earlier piece, “How New York City’s New Plan to Ticket Instead of Arrest for Pot Could Backfire.”

Does this mean we are close to fully legalizing? Not if Bill Bratton has anything to say about it. The police commissioner said on Monday he is opposed to marijuana legalization “under any circumstances.” Luckily, he doesn’t get to decide — it’s up to the legislature, although they don’t appear too keen either.