Recreational use of cannabis is now legal in New York

Recreational use of cannabis is now legal in New York

As on March 31, 2021, recreational use of marijuana is legal in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), which legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.Here are frequently asked questions answered. 

When will the law be enforced?

The law is effective immediately, that is, use of recreational marijuana is legal since March 31, 2021, however, retail sales of marijuana are not expected to begin till 2022. 

What will the MRTA entail?

Under MRTA, an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee and regulate the new adult-use cannabis program will be established. This will also include the State’s medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. The MRTA also establish a new Cannabis Law which will consolidate all the laws affecting the abovementioned programs.

What does legalizing of marijuana mean for employers?

Legalizing of marijuana for recreational use will reflect in the NYS Labor Law Section 201-d (legal activities law) as it will amended to discontinue an employer from refusing to hire, employ, or license; to discharge from employment; or otherwise discriminate against an individual because he/she uses cannabis lawfully outside of work hours, off the employer’s premises and without use of the employer’s equipment or other property. Largely, the amendment asks that there should be no discrimination against employees who consume marijuana for recreational purposes. 

However, exceptions remain, that is, an employer will not be violating the law if they take an action against an employee in a cannabis-related accident if (1) the actions are required by the state or federal statute, regulation, ordinance, or other state or federal government mandate or (2) if the use of cannabis impairs the employee, impacts their performance, interferes with the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace. 

What are the risks involved in legalizing marijuana?

The decision comes with its pros and cons. Of course, the actual impact will be gauged over time. However, long before the legalization, the attorneys at Siler & Ingber analyzed trends nationally and in Colorado to paint a better picture of what NY roads could look like if the Cannabis Regulation & Taxation Act is passed. Overall, it emerged that there lies a risk of 1,946 DUI marijuana-related citations in New York every year, 408 drug driving fatalities and 12,133 marijuana related hospitalizations. This issue might be further exacerbated by the fact that:

  • There are no national standards or standardized tests for weed-impaired drivers.
  • Current tests used for detecting alcohol impairment are only moderately successful at detecting weed impairment.
  • Many patrol officers are not adequately trained in marijuana impairment detection.
  • Even with proper testing (blood, urine, or saliva), finding the presence of a drug doesn’t necessarily indicate impairment. Metabolites from marijuana can stay in the system for weeks.

The detailed findings of the study are available here. As this study was conducted before the legalization of marijuana in New York, and based on estimates, Siler & Ingber plans to update the study using actual facts and figures as data comes in.

What can you do if you suffer an injury in a marijuana-related incident?

If you suffer an injury due to someone who is under the influence of cannabis, you can hire a personal injury attorney to represent you. This includes car accidents, injury on someone’s property, pedestrian accidents, etc. 

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to someone’s negligence and you need the best injury attorney, contact Siler & Ingber today. Call us on 1-877-529-4343 or complete our online form on this page to schedule a case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. Our consultation is free and we do not charge a fee unless we win your case.

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