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On March 31, 2021, New York became the 15th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. A massive win for legalization advocates after years of stalled efforts. While now legal to sell and use marijuana in New York City, that doesn’t mean you can smoke it everywhere. There are still restrictions against smoking of any kind in public places. Private businesses and building boards are also free to implement smoking bans.
If you’re in the process of moving to New York City, you may want to take a close look at what the law says about marijuana use in the city. When it comes time to find an apartment, you’ll also want to know your building’s house rules about smoking.
Legal Use of MarijuanaLegal Use of Marijuana
The law passed in 2021 allows adults 21 years and older to possess up to three ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis. You can smoke, ingest, or consume any cannabis-related products and give them to others who meet the age requirement. People can also keep up to five pounds of cannabis in their apartments, provided they have taken “reasonable steps” to keep it in a secure place.
However, it is still against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to possess, sell, or use any amount of cannabis. Also illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana or smoke inside a motor vehicle (even when parked), or smoke in a public place where smoking is prohibited. Where smoking is not permitted, places include workplaces, restaurants, swimming pools, public transportation, schools, hospitals, zoos, and anything covered under the New York Clean Indoor Air Act. Any infractions of these restrictions may result in a civil summons and a fine.
Smoking Inside Your HomeSmoking Inside Your Home
So, what does this mean for anyone who wants to smoke inside their apartment? Well, it depends. Since August 2018, all multi-family residential buildings have been required to have a smoking policy. The building’s house rules will outline whether it is prohibited or not to smoke inside the building, so this is the first thing you’ll want to check. If your building has a firm no-smoking policy, you should strictly adhere to it. Exceptions include medically prescribed marijuana by your doctor. In that case, you would have a disability defense and be entitled to reasonable accommodation by the building. Tenants should also be aware that a landlord cannot refuse to rent because they smoke marijuana.
Despite the allowance, you should still consider your neighbors if you can smoke marijuana in your apartment. A big problem with marijuana is that the smell is potent. Over time, it may get into the vents and hallways due to poor ventilation. Thus, creating an objectional odor and impacting your neighbors’ rights to the quiet enjoyment of their home. Most leases prohibit objectional odors and can result in an eviction if the problem persists. Fortunately, you can do a few things to lessen the impact of marijuana smoke on your neighbors.
How to Smoke Without Bothering Your NeighborsHow to Smoke Without Bothering Your Neighbors
The easiest way to deal with the smell given off by marijuana smoke is to purchase a vaporizer. Instead of a cloud of pungent smoke, a vaporizer produces an odorless vapor that leaves almost no impact. Before buying a vaporizer, recheck your building’s rules to see if they are permitted. They will likely still be banned in the hallways and common areas when they are allowed.
Another thing you can do is purchase an air purifier. These can be effective at sucking in any odors and filtering out the smell. Plus, they also make the air in your home far clearer and reduce the chances of contracting airborne diseases. You can also try covering up the smell with fragrances. However, bottled products like Febreze can also give off a strong scent, so try to stick to natural products like candles or oils. The more natural the smell, the better it will be.
Lastly, there’s always the option of switching to cannabis edibles like brownies or gummies. Edibles also make for a healthier alternative to smoking.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Keep in mind that while marijuana might now be legal under New York state law, it is still illegal under federal law. That means you cannot use it on federal lands such as national parks or forests, even when they are located within New York state. Be aware of the health risks of marijuana use, including temporary anxiety, a faster heart rate, panic attacks, and respiratory problems.