Can You Smoke in Central Park: Factors to Consider

Many people wonder and ask, “Can you smoke in Central Park or any other public space?” There’s no better way to be one with nature than to venture out into a national park. With plenty of activities to do and the ability to let go over your everyday thoughts, you might be interested in smoking weed while you’re away.

It’s important you know the rules and regulations when it comes to national parks, such as Yellowstone, or city parks, such as Central Park. By knowing what is legal and what isn’t, you can enjoy your weed without getting penalized.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you decide to sneak off into the bush and light up, it’s important to ask yourself these questions.

1. Where is the park located?

First and foremost, you need to consider where the park is and the type of land it is on. At a national park, it is going to be owned and regulated by the federal government. This means federal laws apply to any activity on the premises, including ingesting marijuana in any form.

As marijuana hasn’t been declared legal in federal courts, only state courts, it’s a prosecutable offense to consume any type of marijuana in a national park. Alex Freeburg, a criminal defense attorney, had worked on over six cases at the beginning of 2017 pertaining to visitors smoking marijuana at Yellowstone.

He claims that even if you are from a state where marijuana is legal and you are caught smoking in a national park, the federal government will need to ensure you are drug tested in your home state.

2. Do the rules apply to all forms of marijuana?

It’s important to note that most resources will state that smoking marijuana in a federal state is a punishable offense. However, all of the penalties apply to using marijuana in any form ranging from vaporizing the flower to edibles. In addition, national parks do not allow you to possess any marijuana while on federal land.

3. What are the penalties?

The penalties for ingesting marijuana in a national park will vary depending on the number of times you have been charged. For example, if it is your first time, you may be let off with a warning, but it’s more likely you’ll face a probationary period. During this time, you will need to submit urine samples for regular drug testing.

The most common penalty you may face is a fee of a few hundred dollars. For second or third offenses, you could face monetary penalties reaching into the thousands and up to six months in jail.

4. Do these rules only apply to national parks?

You could be wondering, can you smoke in Central Park and do the same rules in national parks apply? The answer to both questions is no. In New York, the laws around marijuana are starting to become laxer, but you are still subject to punishment if you smoke in public.

On September 1st, 2018, the New York Police Department announced that individuals caught smoking marijuana in public will no longer be arrested. Instead, they will be served with a summons.

There is an exception for individuals without identification, those with a documented history of violence, or individuals who are posing a risk to public safety.

As Central Park is an urban park, rather than a national park, it does not have the same rules and regulations as those monitored by the United States government.

Knowing Your Rights

In the event you decide to consume marijuana while in a national park, you could face plenty of issues not only in the area you are visiting but in your home state as well. It’s also important to note that these punishments can affect your personal and professional life. However, you do have rights in regards to how you are dealt with if you are caught.

The most notable rights to know include:

  • Personal Searches: In regards to searching your person, you have the right to say no to a ranger or an officer unless they have probable cause. It’s important to remember that the smell of marijuana could be probable cause to be searched. These laws also apply to searches to your vehicle or any other personal property you have.
  • Vehicle Searches: Aside from being able to deny a search without probable cause, you also have the right to demand a search warrant before a ranger or officer can inspect your vehicle. It’s best if you assure the police officer that you will not be leaving the premises until they return with a warrant.
  • Probation: If you know you’re not going to be able to stop smoking marijuana, the last thing you’ll want to do is agree to probation. However, it is highly recommended that you seek counsel from a trusted lawyer.

Tips for Smoking Weed in Parks

It’s impossible to assume everyone will avoid smoking marijuana in parks, whether municipal or federal. With that said, it’s a great idea to gather a couple of tips and tricks under your belt to make it less likely you’ll be caught. Some of our favorite tips for smoking weed in parks include:

1. Finding Weed-Friendly Camping

Did you know that there are campsites across the United States that are known as “weed-friendly campgrounds”? These sites are specifically designed to give you a safe and legal place to enjoy a joint while you’re outdoors. You’ll easily be able to find them in areas where marijuana is legal for recreational use.

2. Minimizing Smell

As you can tell, probable cause is easy for a police officer or ranger to find if you smell like weed. It’s best if you find a way to enjoy marijuana without any smell, such as using a vape pen or edibles.

3. Asking in Advance

If you’re unaware if a specific campsite allows marijuana use or not, there’s no harm in calling beforehand to double check. This is an incredibly common question in states where weed is legal and you certainly won’t be the first person to ask the question.

Can You Smoke in Central Park: Final Thoughts

Although you cannot consume marijuana in any form in Central Park or national parks, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. The laws in New York have become a little laxer pertaining to using weed in public, but it’s still not legal. It’s best to opt for weed-friendly campgrounds to enjoy pot and nature together.

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