Where Can You Smoke Weed in NYC?

You can legally consume cannabis almost anywhere in NYC, including on a public street.

Incredibly, you can smoke or vape cannabis in New York City in most of the same places where it is legal to light up a cigarette. 1

You do not need to have special permission, such as citizenship or a medical marijuana card, unless you are under 21 years old. Tourists can also legally buy pot and smoke it.

The tight space constraints in NYC, and public demand to reduce police interactions, led to our extremely permissive smoking laws. These policies also apply to the rest of New York State.

While New York marijuana smoking rules are a mirror of our tobacco smoking rules, there are a few exceptions. Additionally, New York already made it illegal to smoke cigarettes in a number of places.

Weed Consumption Rules in New York City

  • YES You Can Smoke or Consume Weed On:
    • On the sidewalk, even in public view
      • At least 100 feet from schools, daycares, houses of worship, hospitals, and libraries.
    • Public property that is not smoke-free
      • Many outdoor public plazas allow smoking, but many parks do not. Look for smokers, or no-smoking signs, to determine the rules.
    • Private housing
    • Hotels, if smoking is permitted
    • Almost anywhere else that it’s legal to smoke cigarettes
    • You can smoke cannabis, but not tobacco, in specially-designated cannabis consumption lounges; or in certain smoke-free properties if you have a medical marijuana card.
  • NO You CANNOT Legally Smoke Weed or Tobacco At:
    • Most places of employment, especially schools and those where services are primarily offered to children;
    • Federally-subsidized public housing, including NYCHA properties;
    • Indoor bars and restaurants;
    • Mass transportation, including train cars, subway stations, bus and train waiting areas, buses, taxis, vans, and limos;
    • All colleges, educational facilities and vocational institutions, whether public or private;
    • Public indoor arenas, stadiums, and swimming pools;
    • Hospitals;
    • Residential healthcare facilities, except separately designated smoking and vaping rooms for adult patients;
    • Zoos;
    • Bingo facilities.
    • You can smoke tobacco products, but not cannabis, in outdoor restaurant patios; vehicles (driving or parked); cigar bars; hookah lounges; and designated areas of federal parks.

Smoking weed is technically illegal in certain areas, but in practice the law is often ignored by the NYPD – especially in Central Park and other city parks, bar backyards, and on the J/Z train.

Public Smoking Etiquette

It is legal to smell like weed in NYC, although Broadway ushers and fancy maître d’s will tend to give you the stink eye.

Generally speaking, it is legal to be high in public in NYC. We have no public intoxication law, but in extreme cases one could be detained for disorderly conduct or posing a threat to oneself.

Some New Yorkers have health issues that are made worse by hallucinogenic substances. For that reason, it’s very important to be careful with cannabis in public. Even where smoking is legal, blowing it in other people’s faces without consent is the wrong vibe.

  1. The Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which is New York State’s law legalizing cannabis, defines smoking as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains cannabis including the use of an electronic smoking device that creates an aerosol or vapor“. With some exceptions, smoking falls under the existing Smoke Free Air Act and New York State Clean Indoor Air Act, which set the city and state rules for where you can smoke tobacco.

    There are many nuances to these rules. This is a general summary for the public but close reading of the law is necessary for those running a business or holding special events. ↩︎