4. New York
> Max. fine for small amount: $100
> Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 112,974
> Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 577
> Minimum penalty classification : Not classified
New York was one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana, passing a bill in 1977. However, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, law enforcement agencies have been abusing the “public view” loophole, which differentiates between where offenders are caught — possessing a small amount of the drug in the privacy of one’s home results in a fine, while possession in a public place can result in a misdemeanor. Supporting this claim is New York’s extremely high marijuana-related arrest rate, which was the highest in the country in 2013 at 577.24 per 100,000 people — more than double the national rate. However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2014 that the city would no longer be enforcing the loophole.
In early July, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law. There are currently two bills to legalize and tax marijuana in the legislature, which is currently on break.
> Max. fine for small amount: $200
> Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 926
> Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 148
> Minimum penalty classification : Civil violation
According to a Rand research study on marijuana legalization, Vermonters consumed between 15 to 25 metric tons of marijuana, worth between $125 million and $225 million, in 2014. More than 19% of state residents 12 years and over reported using marijuana in the past year, the third highest share nationwide. Also, according to the Vermont Department of Health, marijuana consumption is more common among 12- to 17-year-olds in Vermont than in any other state in the nation.
As in every other state likely to legalize pot, possessing less than an ounce or less of the drug is not punishable by incarceration. Possessing more than an ounce, the selling of any amount, or cultivating the plant, however, is considered a misdemeanor. Selling a half ounce or more, or cultivating three or more plants, is a felony.