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Unlike many other states, NY did not ban publicly smoking cannabis in the Marijuana Regulations and Taxation Act (MRTA). However, that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all on lighting up in the Big Apple. Here’s what you need to know.

First things first: Where are you allowed to smoke weed in NYC?

Can you smoke weed anywhere in New York? No. But you can smoke in certain public places.

New York made the rules pretty easy to follow: you’re allowed to smoke weed in most places you can smoke tobacco. However, New York City is not exactly smoker-friendly. Where precisely are you allowed to smoke?

Private property like your home or a friend’s backyard

Area of public property where smoking is allowed, such as the sidewalk outside Union Square Park

Consumption lounges (when they open)

Sidewalks that are at least 100 feet away from churches, schools, libraries, hospitals, and daycares

Basically: If you see a “no smoking” sign, you can’t smoke cannabis there. However, if you see a “designated smoking area” sign, you can.

Keep in mind that “smoking” means all forms of inhalation. New York considers vapes in the same category as joints, bowls, bongs, and cigarettes, so this applies to your PAX Era and Heavy pods, too.

Are there exemptions to the “smoke cannabis wherever you can smoke cigarettes” policy?

Since cannabis products can be intoxicating, there are a few places where you can smoke cigarettes that you’re not allowed to smoke weed. You cannot smoke in cars (even parked cars), hookah lounges, or cigar bars.

Where are you not allowed to smoke weed in NYC?

The days of smokey NYC bars are long gone, and today, the city that never sleeps is mostly smoke-free. You are not allowed to smoke cigarettes in many places in NYC, which means you can’t smoke weed there either.

No smoking is allowed in:

Hotels

The subway, train, or MTA

Businesses

Restaurants

Outdoor dining patios

Rooftop bars

All federal property

Certain areas in state parks

In most areas of most community parks

Pedestrian plazas like Times Square

Most state and community beaches

Golf courses

Sports stadiums like Barclay’s Center

Most public property in NYC is smoke-free, so don’t count on being able to light up in many places you visit. But you can plan to step outside onto the sidewalk and smoke, from Union Square to Washington Heights.

What happens if you’re caught smoking somewhere you’re not supposed to? First, peer pressure. You may be asked to move or stop what you’re doing. If you refuse, the issue can be escalated to law enforcement, and you may receive a fine between $25 and $50, or a community service sentence.

What do renters need to know about lighting up?

Can you smoke in your apartment? That’s up to your landlord and your lease. If you live in public housing that is federally subsidized, you are not allowed to smoke cannabis in your home.

Private landlords are allowed to ban smoking of both cannabis and cigarettes inside rented homes and apartments, so be sure you know the terms of your agreement before you hit the bong inside. Your landlord cannot, however, refuse to rent to you just because you enjoy cannabis.

Can I smoke weed outside of work on my break or after my shift?

Employers in New York are not legally allowed to discriminate against you for using cannabis outside of work. However, they can ban cannabis consumption on property, require drug testing, and fire you for being high at work.

That being said, it’s not smart to light up on your break unless you have a company culture explicitly saying it’s okay. It’s one thing to get high with your coworkers after work, and another to share a bowl out back on your 15-minute break. Use common sense and your best judgment.

Cannabis consumption etiquette

What you’re legally allowed to do is not always the same as what would be polite to do. And while it is legal to smoke cannabis in public, there are a few etiquette considerations you should consider.

Don’t litter. Littered cigarette butts are a common sight — don’t add joint tips to the mix. Always dispose of your roaches properly for the cleanliness of your neighborhood and the safety of kids and pets.

Consider the kids. Think about your surroundings before you light up. If you’re outside on the sidewalk, let the family pushing a stroller walk past you before sparking up your joint. If you’re smoking in an allowable area of a park, walk at least 100 feet away from the playground.

Be polite. It’s legal to smoke in private spaces, but ask your friends if it’s OK before you take a bong rip in their living room. If you’re with a large group, ask if anyone minds if you light up. People with allergies, asthma, and sensitive skin will appreciate your consideration.

Final thoughts on smoking weed in NYC

New York state is not a smoke-friendly state, but the MRTA made it easy to understand where you are and are not allowed to smoke cannabis in public. If you see someone outside smoking a cigarette, you can light up there, too. Use your best judgment, be respectful, trash your roaches appropriately, and enjoy — there’s no place to light up like the Big Apple!

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