NYC Cannabis Etiquette: Can I Roll Weed on the Subway?
Yes, you can legally smoke on New York’s streets and roll your weed on the subway. But should you? Here are Leafly’s tips for smoking in the city.
New York, which first legalized adult-use cannabis in 2021 and made legal sale in late 2022, allows smoking cannabis wherever cigarette smoking is legal. It also allows possession of up to three ounces of bud, which could have landed you in jail under recent drug laws. But just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.
Whether you’re arriving on the train, lighting up the street, or heading out on an exciting adventure, review these basics of cannabis etiquette before next heading downtown.
Is it legal to roll weed in public in New York City?
Rolling up weed in public used to be an easy way to get locked up. Now New Yorkers can roll up just about anywhere. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)
After New York passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in March 2021, it became legal to possess (and roll with) cannabis virtually anywhere, including on long subway rides. As long as you don’t glow.
A state official told Leafly that they witnessed New Yorkers preparing their joints and blunts on the train in 2021, after the MRTA. They found that the only broken law they observed was the few seconds subway scooters had to take off their face masks to seal their spliffs with a leak.
Just because it’s legal to roll up on your way to a party or home after a night out doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. Cannabis lovers across New York are counting on all other stoners not to ruin the new setup for the rest of us. There is already public resistance to the new offers of legalizing freedoms. So don’t give the other side more ammunition by dropping buds on business suits during rush hour or right after school in front of kids.
“I smell weed,” the mayor of NYC said happily about the wet and cold Times Square
If you find yourself on a mostly empty train or surrounded by adults unperturbed by your horny vibes, roll in with no worries. Just don’t assume everyone loves that Skunk smell as much as you do. And try not to stand up when someone politely asks you not to disturb their journey. You don’t look as cool as you think you’re struggling against the turbulence of the train trying to conjure a perfect jay. So save the role assignment for your next stop or final destination in case there’s a chance you’ll disturb your fellow travelers.
Is it legal to smoke in public in New York City?
A woman with designer nails lights a joint in downtown New York City. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)
Yes, with a few exceptions. New Yorkers can smoke cannabis anywhere except in public parks, pedestrian precincts like Herald Square and Times Square, and some private building entrances. Just pay attention to your chronic footprint—or the airspace your smoke occupies around you.
Man smokes a joint. (AdobeStock)
Passing by a school or a nanny pushing a stroller? Cross the street or at least hold your breath until they pass. Hectic through a crowded street? Walk down a side street or alley out of respect, not shame. There are already countless complaints about the city smelling of weed (at least better than trash, right?). So don’t give uptight lawmakers and locals more firepower and NIMBY talking points.
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Tips for getting high in public
Edible lovers and light smokers beware – this is for you. New York City is full of incredible activities and great cannabis products. So you’re not the only one thinking about going to a museum, a Broadway play, or the Knicks play Big Apple Baked. The key is to plan well, be aware of your surroundings, and if you’re watching a Pixar movie alone, sit in the back and do your best not to startle the kids.
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Microdosing Cannabis Edibles: How To Find The Best Product For You
If you’re trying edibles, make sure you know what you’re taking and how to dose it. Unlike cannabis flower, edibles can hit you all at once and last for hours. Avoid an unnecessary panic attack, a 48-hour hibernation, or an embarrassing trip to the emergency room by eating responsibly.
A New Yorker enjoys a local product at a Spleef NYC canna cocktail party. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer, file)
If you are unsure how cannabis will affect you, it may be best to only consume it at home or in a controlled environment. If you do venture out, find activities that will calm you down.
Places in New York City where smoking is prohibited
Sorry New York, the days of legal smoking in parks are over. (Meg Schmidt / Leafly)
- Bars and pubs (including hotel lobbies)
- dance clubs
- government building
- Restaurants and cafes (including sidewalk seating)
- Theaters (including cinemas, Broadway theaters and all other live music and performance theatres)
- On public transport, including the following: airports (including bars), buses, ferries, taxis, subways, train stations and platforms
- Public outdoor spaces include: All parks in New York City including Central Park, beaches and boardwalks
- playgrounds and swimming pools
- Public golf courses
- Sports stadiums (such as Yankee Stadium, Aqueduct Racetrack and the Casino)
- Pedestrian places like Times Square and Herald Square.
Places in New York where you can legally smoke
- In a designated smoking hotel room
- In a private home
- In a private vehicle
- On sidewalks in the city, except within 15 feet of any entrance or exit to a healthcare facility.
- retail stores selling tobacco products
- tobacco bars
- In cigar bars (ask first)
State officials told Leafly that they have no intention of criminalizing consumption in New York. But the negative stigma attached to the plant and its users will remain if the cannabis community does not consume respectfully amid the new reality of legalization. So be aware and responsible as you enjoy the new freedoms the MRTA gives you.
Until our next etiquette lesson: stay classy, New York cannabis lovers!
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