New York City Marijuana Laws
Possession of less than an ounce (technically, 25 grams, or just under an ounce) of cannabis was decriminalized in New York state in 1977. This means it is punishable by a fine of $100 for the first offense. For the second offense, the penalty increases to a $200 fine. For subsequent offenses the fine increases to $250, and a maximum of 15 days in jail time may be imposed.
In 2009 most remaining provisions of the draconian Rockefeller Laws--which instated mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession under Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in 1973--were overturned following a long activist campaign.
However, public smoking remains illegal--and New York City is probably the marijuana bust capital of the world.
In 1994, the first year of Rudolph Giuliani's initial term as mayor of New York, 3,400 people were arrested for marijuana possession in the city's five boroughs. By 2000, that number had swelled to 51,500. This policy has unfortunately continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg—39,400 people were arrested in New York for pot in 2007. So smoking on the streets of the Big Apple may not be advisable.
If you are arrested with just a joint or some nominal sum just shut up and go through the system. There is no need to spend money on a lawyer, they will not get you out any faster. While you are waiting to see the judge in Central Booking (The Tombs) a court clerk will come done with an ipad or blackberry and ask you all your information. It is better to ignore these people completely, that way way you will be called with the first batch of prisoners heading for the judge as they like to get the dangerous ones, or potentially dangerous ones, out of Central Booking and into Rikers Island or the Federal Detention Centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan as quickly as possible. If the judge sees you are just a pot possessor you be released and told to pay a fine, If you keep your nose clean for six months the charge will be sealed and forgotten. Tell the court appointed attorney you have a job, people to take care of, basically demonstrate that you have some outstanding community ties and the judge will not want to waste any more of the court's time on you.