Schenectady, NY, New York

Smoking tolerance level [1= very illegal 5=virtually legal]: 3

Legislation: Up to 25 grams is a possession ticket. You may get arrested and taken in for the night, but when all’s said and done it’s just a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second. From there to two ounces is a misdemeanor. The fine is $500 and you can get up to three months, but unless there are aggravating circumstances any half-competent lawyer can get you probation on this. Two grams to eight ounces is a class A misdemeanor, one year and/or a $1,000 fine; anything more is a felony. Possession of more than eight ounce, and sale of any amount over 25 grams, is a felony. Smoking itself is not illegal in New York, but smoking in public is a misdemeanor, treated the same as possession of 25 grams to two ounces. Paraphenalia penalties are heavy in New York; the fine is $1,000, and theoretically you can get a year, although in practice you’ll never get jail time for just a couple pipes or bongs. Still, you might want to stick with papers and blunts an d avoid the hassle.

Law enforcement: Until the late 90s, Schenectady’s infamously corrupt police department only used marijuana laws as a way to harass people they had it in for. Nowadays, there is some effort at enforcement, but it’s mostly against dealers. The police here are too concerned about crack to go out of their way to find smokers. Dealers need to be careful, and a cop will search you and ticket you if your car blatantly reeks of weed, but in general, smokers don’t have much to worry about. Don’t smoke when walking down the street, but in the neighborhoods people smoke on their porches all the time, and as long as they don’t bother anybody nobody bothers them. I can’t count the number of times I was on a porch as a teenager, beer cans sitting out in the open, blunt burning, and police cars just rolled by without a second glance.

If you get caught for simple possession, there’s a good chance the cop’ll let you go without a ticket, although they’ll definitely take your stuff, and they might even take you to jail for the night. Even if you get a ticket, it’s no big deal. If you get caught dealing, though, expect to be charged.

Where to buy marijuana: Although crackhouses aren’t as common as they once were, they are still around. Just ask around any poor neighborhood and you’ll find out about “knock spots” where you can go for weed, coke and crack. Such spots aren’t as obvious as they are in some cities; asking is a better way to find one than walking around looking.

You can sometimes find dealers on the street in the rougher neighborhoods, Hamilton Hill and Vale, and on parts of State and Albany streets at night. Ask any younger guy who’s dressed like a thug and doesn’t seem to be doing anything in particular. It’s a good bet that either he or someone he knows has some bags for sale.

I wouldn’t recommend either of these two routes, however–although you can definitely find some this way, the weed won’t be good and you’ll get a smaller bag than you would otherwise. A lot of people smoke here, and even the people who don’t are usually relaxed about it and will help you find some if they like you. Just meet some younger people, or really people of any age in the hood, and you’ll get a decent deal. Drinking is one of the few things to do in this town, so bars are always a good place.

Marijuana prices: Midis: $100-110 an ounce for the lower grade ones, up to $180 if it’s good mids. Midis are rarely sold by the eighth; you usually get them in nicks (a fat joint), dimes (a fat blunt) and 20s (a little more than two dimes), and if you want more than that, the least you’d get is a quarter or half ounce.

Hydro/Kine bud: $35 to $45 an 1/8, depending on the quality and availability. Ounces go for anywhere between $200 and $280.

Marijuana brands: Midis are the easiest to find here, especially in the hood. They’re full of seeds and sticks, but the midis here are significantly better than the brown, shaky schwag you can expect to find for cheap in a lot of towns. If you get a bag a dime or bigger, you can expect it to have actual green buds in it, even if the buds are compressed brick weed.

Better weed (kine bud in local parlance, although you sometimes hear dro and haze, especially in the hood) is available. Your best bet is to try college students, or younger people from the burbs; when it’s available in the hood, it’s often overpriced and overhyped unless you know the guy selling it.

More information: Despite its Dutch origins, Schenectady is not exactly a weed mecca. But weed’s a lot easier to find than in Troy, and both the cops and the locals are a lot more relaxed than in Albany.