Tag marijuana

NY Times: It Wasn’t a Crime to Carry Marijuana. Until the Police Found a Loophole.

By Benjamin Mueller,  August 2

It was the 1970s, and marijuana raids and mass arrests had been sweeping college campuses and suburban concert venues in New York. The crackdown outraged parents. There was talk of ruined reputations and “Gestapo” police tactics.

State legislators in 1977 devised what they took to be a simple fix: a bill that made carrying small supplies of marijuana a ticket-worthy violation, not a crime. To win enough votes from Republicans, the authors carved out an exception that said it was still a crime to carry marijuana “open to public view.”

The bill’s backers thought the addition was harmless enough, given that people did not usually take out their stash in front of the police anyway. The era of mass arrests for carrying around marijuana seemed to be over.

City and State: The other argument for recreational pot

By Rebecca Lewis, June 3

The push to legalize marijuana for recreational use is gaining momentum in New York. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is pushing for it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he is open to it and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has concluded that it is inevitable.

Much of this drive appears to come from a social justice campaign to end racial disparities in arrests for marijuana offenses. Nixon made that clear in her campaign video. De Blasio’s new position, which included a demand that the NYPD stop making arrests for smoking marijuana in public, came after reports of enforcement disproportionately affecting black and Latino residents.

But changes could remove or ease restrictions on medical marijuana in New York and might even help to curb the state’s opioid epidemic.

New York has a medical marijuana program, but it is more restrictive than in other states. For instance, a person must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition. While that list was recently expanded to include post-traumatic stress disorder, a patient must still have a “severe, debilitating or life-threatening” condition, which leaves out many others who may benefit from medical marijuana.

City and State: Joint effort: Where key players stand on legalizing recreational marijuana in New York

By Grace Seegers, April 20

Recreational marijuana has recently been high on the list of priorities for New York politicians. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has made legalization an important part of her campaign, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s opinions seem to be evolving. The Republican gubernatorial candidates, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and state Sen. John DeFrancisco, did not return requests for comment on their positions on recreational marijuana, although DeFrancisco did vote against the bill which legalized medical marijuana in New York in 2014.

Meanwhile, legislation is under consideration in the state Legislature that would legalize recreational marijuana, although it faces stiff opposition. In honor of 4/20, here is an in the weed(s) look at the politicians who are blazing the trail for legalizing recreational marijuana in New York, and the ones who are harshing the mellow.


Assemblyman Dick Gottfried & State Sen. Liz Krueger

The long-time chairman of the Assembly Health Committee is a staunch advocate of making marijuana more accessible. He helped to write the law which legalized medical marijuana in the state for a narrow set of conditions and does not allow patients to smoke it but imbibe through other means, but has criticized it for being too restrictive. He has introduced legislation to allow people to smoke marijuana and to loosen the restrictions on which afflictions qualify for medical marijuana use. Gottfried is also an Assembly sponsor of the Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act. This bill would legalize marijuana for adults over 21, which Gottfried has said is “long overdue” in New York.

Krueger is also an advocate of legalizing recreational marijuana. She is the Senate sponsor of the Taxation and Regulation Act, which has previously stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Krueger’s position is that prohibition of recreational marijuana “disproportionately affects communities of color and wastes valuable law enforcement resources.”

Gay City News: Assembly holds hearing on legalizing pot

By Nathan Riley, January 18

BY NATHAN RILEY | Demanding that New York State stop racist law enforcement patterns by legalizing adult use of marijuana, advocates told members of the State Assembly, including Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, a Chelsea Democrat, that police stops are traumatizing black and brown New Yorkers.

At a January 11 hearing in Lower Manhattan, speaker after speaker insisted that being searched, handcuffed, marched into court, and chained to other arrestees in the morning is often traumatizing.

“Marijuana decriminalization has fallen short and will continue to do so,” Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, contended.

Even with reductions in stop and frisk, it remains up to the police officer to distinguish between private possession and possession in public view, which can trigger a criminal arrest. Those nabbed, overwhelmingly black and Latino New Yorkers, are fingerprinted and given retinal scans. Police officers have no immediate way of knowing if their victim faces deportation or loss of a job or a scholarship, but no matter what the arrestee is left cowed and confused.

Video: Spectrum News – Making the case for legalized marijuana

Capitol Tonight, January 17: Video here.

Last February, Governor Cuomo said he was against recreational marijuana because he thought it was a gateway drug. Now, Cuomo wants to appoint a panel to study legalizing pot in the state and the possible tax revenue it could bring. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has been advocating for this for a while and hosted a hearing on this very issue last week. Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, joins us to talk more about this and other health care matters in the executive budget.

City & State: One rationale for legalizing marijuana? Curbing opioid deaths.

By Rebecca Lewis, January 12

President Donald Trump has pledged to end the growing scourge of opioid abuse.

The president’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has paved the way for prosecuting the nascent marijuana industry legalized in a growing number of states.

But the dual federal efforts may be at odds, experts say, citing evidence that expanding access to marijuana could actually help combat the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Julia Arnsten, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said at a state Assembly hearing this week that states that have medical marijuana average a lower rate of opioid-related deaths than states without.

Fox 5 NY: Legal marijuana in New York? Lawmakers hold hearing

By Jessica Formoso, January 11 (with video)

– The New York State Assembly held a public hearing Thursday to discuss the proposed Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over 21.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the chair of the health committee, said several states now tax and regulate recreational marijuana.

“I think that’s long overdue here in New York,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, more than 800,000 people in New York State have been arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

“In New York City in 2016, 18,000 arrests for marijuana procession alone,” the Law Enforcement Action Partnership’s Neill Franklin said. “$325 a day to incarcerate somebody in the city. That’s a lot of money.”

Crain’s: What should marijuana legalization look like in New York?

By Caroline Lewis, February 12

Although it’s uncertain if a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol could become law in New York, a state Assembly hearing Thursday showed that lawmakers are taking the prospect of legalizing “adult use” seriously.

Rather than simply focusing on whether the state should end the prohibition of recreational marijuana, Assembly members asked pointed questions about what legalization should look like.

Advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, Vocal-NY and a range of other advocacy groups said that full legalization in New York should address the harm that prohibition has caused to communities of color, whose members are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession. One approach is to proactively diversify license recipients.

AM New York: Marijuana legalization debated by New York State Assembly

By Ivan Pereira, January 11

Lawmakers had the dubious task Thursday of opening the floor to arguments for the legalization of marijuana in New York.

In light of growing national support over for legalizing pot — a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that 58 percent of Americans want it decriminalized — State Assemb. Richard Gottfried, who chairs the assembly’s health committee, said the state needed to take a serious look at its antiquated drug enforcement laws.

“We want to hear from a diverse group” Gottfried said.

Merry Jane: Cannabis Prohibition in New York State has Everything Working Against It

By Madison Margolin, December 1

Cannabis prohibition in New York State could have a fast approaching expiration date — if legislators take into account all the factors working against it.

According to a recent poll, 62 percent of New York voters think cannabis for adults over 21 should be legal, with only 28 percent opposed. Meanwhile, with New Jersey’s recent election of Phil Murphy for governor — who has promised to legalize cannabis rather than suppress it as his predecessor and outspoken pot opponent Chris Christie did — prohibition in New York will become an increasingly untenable policy. During his campaign, Murphy pledged to “legalize marijuana so police can focus resources on violent crimes.” Assuming New Jersey does move forward with legalization in the near future, policing the influx of legal weed over the border would likely be an unpopular use of law enforcement resources in New York.