It's summertime in New York State and many of us are hitting the water to enjoy the nice weather. Now that marijuana is legal in the state, you may be tempted to consume cannabis while on a boat. But, is it legal?

Even Though Marijuana Is Legal In New York, There Are Places You Can't Consume It

Legal adult-use cannabis consumption is still in its infancy in New York,

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) legalizes cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older. This law sets out a framework that will comprehensively regulate cannabis in New York State in a manner that will protect public health and safety, while promoting social equity and economic development.

Many rules about marijuana consumption are based on tobacco laws. When it comes to smoking marijuana, the same 'Clean Indoor Air Act' laws apply. It's also important to keep in mind that even though marijuana consumption is legal in the state, it's still against federal law. The United States government still has cannabis listed as a Schedule I controlled substance. According to WeedMaps,

Across the United States, if you're boating on federal waterways off the coast or on a lake, you're not legally allowed to possess or consume weed. Coastal areas, rivers, and lakes that touch more than one state are overseen by both federal and state governments.

The federal government uses the U.S. Coast Guard as its law enforcement arm for any bodies of water that it oversees. Statute 14 USC 522 says that the Coast Guard can board any U.S. boat or marine vessel at will,

The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the United States. For such purposes, commissioned, warrant, and petty officers may at any time go on board of any vessel subject to the jurisdiction, or to the operation of any law, of the United States, address inquiries to those on board, examine the ship's documents and papers, and examine, inspect, and search the vessel and use all necessary force to compel compliance.

U.S. Coast Guard Maintains Security Around New York City
In this handout image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, 25-foot Defender Class security boat from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91106 sweeps the East River around Whitehall Terminal as the Staten Island Ferry arrives to Manhattan September 1, 2004 in New York Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the multi-agency waterside security effort around Manhattan during the Republican National Convention. (Photo by Kelly Newlin/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images)
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In layman's terms, the Coast Guard can come aboard your boat and search your possessions. If a Coast Guard officer finds marijuana in your possession, they could very well arrest you. Power & Motoryacht says,

Marijuana discovered during USCG enforcement activities could result in seizure of property, fines, termination, loss of license, and federal charges.

Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash
Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash
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Possession Of Marijuana Vs. Being Under The Influence While Boating

While it is still very highly debatable and confusing as to whether you can be arrested and charged federally for having cannabis on a boat. It is more clear-cut when it comes to being under the influence of weed while operating a boat in New York. New York State specifies that marijuana is treated like alcohol when it comes to operating motor vehicles - it's illegal.

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and can slow motor coordination and other skills needed to drive safely. If you drive under the influence of cannabis, you will get a DUI and risk hurting yourself or others. Using cannabis products while driving is illegal.

New York strengthened its Boating While Intoxicated laws in 2006,

Under the new law, a first conviction for boating while intoxicated (BWI) will be a misdemeanor which carries a sentence of up to one year instead of the current ninety days. The fine will increase from a minimum of $350 and a maximum of $500 to a range of between $500 and $1,000. A second conviction for BWI within ten years will rise to a Class E felony status with a sentence of up to 4 years in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

The bottom line is that you may be fine if you consume marijuana on a boat in New York State, but is purely up to the Coast Guard officer if you're in waters managed by the federal government. Remember, Marijuana is still considered illegal by the feds. If you're in waters solely managed by the state, you will likely be ok, so long as you're not violating any cannabis consumption rules and you have a small quantity. If you are caught operating a boat under the influence of marijuana, you're going to face legal consequences, whether you're in federal or state waters.

**This article does not provide legal advise

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