Posts Tagged ‘New York’
ALBANY, NY — New York has become the latest state to see medical marijuana legislationintroduced this year.
The bills would create a tightly regulated system of medical marijuana supply, complete with patient registries, but would not allow patients or designated caregivers to grow their own medicine. Patients would be limited to possessing no more than two ounces.
Drug reform and marijuana advocacy groups welcomed the introduction of the bills, but some expressed concerns that the measures as written do not provide enough protection for patients.
“Patients and their families in New York have suffered far too long because New York continues its retrograde approach to marijuana policies, even as other states move forward with more sensible approaches,” said Julie Netherland, deputy director of New York policy for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“The Drug Policy Alliance stands with hundreds of patients, healthcare providers, and organizations across New York in calling for the legislature to pass this sensible and humane legislation as soon as possible. A growing body of research shows that medical marijuana can be an effective treatment for a number of serious conditions. People living with multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS and other debilitating conditions should not have to wait any longer to get access to a medicine that may help alleviate their pain and other symptoms. There is simply no sensible reason for patients and their families to wait any longer for relief.”
“Empire State NORML welcomes the long awaited introduction of S. 4406/A. 6357,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. “We support the bill, and will work hard with Compassionate Care NY, the New York Cannabis Alliance, and other allies for Senate passage for the first time and Gov. Cuomo’s signature.”
But while supporting the bills, Empire State NORML expressed two reservations. It noted that the bills have no affirmative defense provision for patients possessing more than two ounces for medically necessary reasons and asked that such provisions be added. And the group expressed concern over the lack of a patient or caregiver cultivation provision.
“Empire State NORML strongly supports the right of certified patients or their designated caregivers to cultivate their own medicine,” the group said. “But there should at least be a hardship provision for certain certified patients with transportation, physical or financial difficulties or their designated caregivers to cultivate their own medicine instead of having to rely on registered organizations.”
Will this be the year New York joins its neighbors in embracing medical marijuana? The state shares borders with Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, as well as Canada.
All but Pennsylvania have already enacted medical marijuana laws.
ALBANY, NY — Two bills that could make New York the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana were introduced in Albany on Tuesday. A third medical marijuana bill, introduced in January, has stalled in committee.
Senate Bill 4406, the Compassionate Care Act, was introduced by Senator Diane Savino Tuesday. A companion bill, Assembly Bill 6357, was introduced by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. Both bills have been referred to the Health Committee in their respective chambers.
The bills would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs.
“Patients and their families in New York have suffered far too long because New York continues its retrograde approach to marijuana policies, even as other states move forward with more sensible approaches,” said Julie Netherland, the Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York Policy Office, in a statement encouraging the bill’s passage. “There is simply no sensible reason for patients and their families to wait any longer for relief.”
Under the twin bills introduced Tuesday, the possession, acquisition, use, delivery, transfer, transport or administration of medical marijuana by a certified patient or their designated caregiver would be authorized.
Patients and caregivers would be limited to two and a half ounces of marijuana at any given time.
The Department of Health would be responsible for the oversight of the state’s medical marijuana program.
As written, the bill would allow patients with serious medical conditions to use medical marijuana. The bill states that the conditions include, but are not limited to, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, nerve tissue and spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Chron’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus, and diabetes.
The bill also allows medical marijuana to be recommended to patients who, as a result of side affects from other medication, suffer from the inability to tolerate food, nausea, vomitting, dysphoria or pain.
The bill specifies that medical marijuana would not be allowed to be smoked anywhere tobacco is prohibited. Health care facilities would be the sole exception, provided patients are smoking marijuana in designated areas and not in the presence of other patients not authorized for medical marijuana.
“Advocates feel confident that this might be the year New York finally joins the other 18 states around the country that have medical marijuana laws,” said Evan Nison, spokesperson for the NY Cannabis Alliance.
If passed, New York would join eighteen other states – including New Jersey and Connecticut — and the District of Columbia in allowing patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses to access to medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
A third medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 1682, was introduced in January but remains forgotten in the Senate Health Committee. That bill would authorize patients to possess up to 8 ounces of medical marijuana, and allows medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services.
NEW YORK – A class-action suit challenging the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy got under way Monday with a lawyer saying that officers have been wrongly stopping tens of thousands of young men based solely on their race.
Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the policy is legal, but the department is doing stops illegally. Changes must be ordered by a federal judge to ensure the department stops wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men, he said.
He called many of the half million annual stops a “frightening and degrading experience” for “thousands if not millions” of New Yorkers over the last decade. He called them “arbitrary, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
He promised plaintiffs will show the judge “powerful testimonial and statistical evidence” that New Yorkers are routinely stopped without suspicion.
The sign says it all (DPA)
Charney said it will include stories from a dozen black and Hispanic men who say they were targeted because of their race. Police officers and criminologists are also scheduled to testify.
More than a hundred New Yorkers, police officers, scholars and lawmakers are expected to testify about the police department’s controversial tactic of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people on the street.
Police have made about five million stops in the past decade of New Yorkers, mostly black and Hispanic men.
“We’re putting the NYPD on trial, and the stakes are the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Vincent Warren, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the suit in 2008 on behalf of four men who said they were wrongly stopped.
The case has since become a class-action suit that seeks a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes to how the police make stops. The trial is expected to last more than a month. Lawyers also plan to play hours of audio tapes made by Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer who was hauled off to a psych ward against his will after he said he refused to fill illegal quotas. His former bosses, including some reassigned after their statements were made public, are also expected.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has already said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about stop and frisk, is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal. But she does have the power to order reforms, which could bring major changes to how the nation’s largest police force and other departments use the tactic.
Street stops have become a New York flashpoint, with mass demonstrations, city council hearings, mayoral candidates calling for reform, and, most recently, days of protests following the fatal police shooting of a teen who authorities say pulled out a gun during a stop.
New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus Join Community Groups to Call for an End to the Marijuana Possession Law
Marijuana possession is the number one arrest is New York City and a top arrest in New York State, leading to racial discrepancies, while costing taxpayers $600 million over last decade
Albany, NY – Today members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, together with Senator Daniel Squadron, and Albany County District Attorney David Soares, gathered to end the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession. Joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state, the Caucus urged members of the Senate and Assembly to support Governor Cuomo’s marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal, outlined in his 2013 State of the State Address, would end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people for possessing marijuana in public view by fixing the law and standardizing the penalties for marijuana possession.
The arrest statistics say it all; Approximately 45,000 people were arrested in New York for marijuana possession in 2012 alone; nearly 40,000 of those arrests were in New York City, far exceeding the total marijuana arrests from 1981-1995. The cost to taxpayers was nearly $75 million last year alone, and over $600 million in the last decade, a profound waste of money. With budgets tightening everywhere, legislators and advocates joined together to call for sensible reforms. Fixing the law and standardizing penalties will bring us closer to ending racially discriminatory marijuana arrest practices while focusing our limited resources more effectively.
Assemblyman Karim Camara, Chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, (D-Brooklyn-43rd AD), said, “This legislation will ensure that possession of a small amount of marijuana, whether public or private, is treated as a violation and not as a misdemeanor. We can’t continue to let minor offenses like this ruin the future of everyday New Yorkers, particularly minority youth, leading to the deterioration of communities across the state. Nor can we continue to waste millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crime. This legislation will ensure that individuals who possess small amounts of marijuana are sanctioned appropriately while avoiding permanent damage on their records. This legislation will bring fairness to our justice system.
“We cannot have the same laws applied differently to different groups of people when the dividing line is race,” said Gabriel Sayegh, New York State director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The governor’s proposal is an essential step towards bringing greater fairness and equity to both our drug laws and policing practices in our state. The criminalization of our young people must end – the legislature must now act now to enact reform.”
“I fully support legislation that standardizes the punitive charges for marijuana-related arrests. Too often, Blacks and Hispanics suffer the disproportionate and biased effects of the existing laws that render how violations are treated. I am eager to see the day when marijuana violations are accorded a more sensible and coherent methodology in terms of how they are classified and applied, if for nothing else, to mitigate the more pernicious effects of stop & frisk policing.” Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, (D-Bronx-87th AD).
“Each day that the crisis of rampant marijuana arrests in New York goes unaddressed, hundreds of young people lose the opportunity to fully participate in our state’s economy and local communities. The use of this loophole in our drug laws to target and criminalize Black and Latino youth is not only ethically wrong, but it is bad economic policy. By standardizing penalties for marijuana possession with the laws that have been in effect since 1977, we will save taxpayer money, provide broader opportunity for social growth, and promote greater fairness throughout the New York State.”Assemblyman Walter Mosley, D-Brooklyn-57th AD)
“I strongly support and urge for the passage of a bill that will decriminalized marijuana. I represent the Police Precinct with the highest amount of “stop and frisk” cases in the entire city and state of New York. Everyday in my district young men of color are being victimized for carrying small amounts of marijuana because of current policing policies. Arrests made for petty marijuana charges desensitizes the youth to the justice system and negatively impacts the rest of their lives,” stated Assemblyman Member Rafael L Espinal Jr, (D-Brooklyn-54th AD).
“For generations Bronx families have been suffering from inequities rooted in a criminal justice system that often turns its collective back on the needs of people of color,”Assemblywoman Vanessa L. Gibson, (D-Bronx, 77th AD), said. “Ending the harsh penalties for those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana is an essential first step in bringing equity and fairness to our court system, and removing a barrier that has blocked access to opportunity for generations of African-Americans and Latinos throughout our state.”
Stephen G., a 31 year old African-American resident of the Bronx, was arrested twice in one year for marijuana possession despite an operations order from NYPD Commissioner Kelly instructing police not to make arrests in connection with stop and frisk searches. “I was minding my own business walking home when police stopped me and asked if I had anything in my pockets,” Stephen, a member of VOCAL New York, recounted about the most recent arrest in October 2012. “They began searching me without my permission and then arrested me for having a tiny amount of marijuana in my pocket. While I was being processed, a couple officers rushed me, with one grabbing my throat and another one ripping my jacket, and I was then held overnight in Central Booking. It makes me feel like the whole system is stacked against people like me.” After another arrest for marijuana possession, in November 2011, Stephen was kicked out of a job training program after he was arrested and held for three days.
“We must close the loophole in the law that allows a person who complies with the lawful order of a police officer and takes marijuana out of their pocket to be charged with a misdemeanor, arrested, and taken into the system,” Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, (D-Manhattan-71st AD) said. “Even the law enforcement community is asking for the law to be clarified. For too long, young men and women of color have had their futures ruined because of this quirk of the law, and we must all agree to fix this problem as soon as humanly possible.”
“The discriminatory and archaic marijuana possession law has been debilitating Black and Brown communities across New York State for too long, and now is the time to change the statute. The existing law encourages biased police tactics, like stop and frisk, which results in thousands of unnecessary arrests in my neighborhood of Harlem, and throughout New York City. We must eliminate the pointless, low-level arrests that stem from current statute by creating a fair and consistent law that our citizens deserve” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright (D- Manhattan- 70th AD).
“Far too often, law-abiding New Yorkers are made to feel like suspects targeted by law enforcement instead of citizens protected by it. Reforming the in-plain-view marijuana statute and the inconsistent way it’s enforced would be an important step toward ending these inequities. It’s time for Albany to act. Thank you to Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Camara, the Caucus, the Drug Policy Alliance, and all of our colleagues here today fighting to bring justice to each and every New York community,” Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan-26th SD), who sponsors Senate legislation to reform the in-plain-view statute.
“Let’s get clear on what this is about. Passing the marijuana reform bill is a critical building block for furthering public safety and health, especially for low-income youth and communities of color, “ said Kyung Ji Kate Rhee, Juvenile Justice Director at the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions (CNUS). “We trust that Governor Cuomo will provide the critical leadership necessary to make our communities healthier and safer by ensuring equity, education, justice, and civil rights. “
The reform proposal outlined by Governor Cuomo is supported by dozens of community organizations throughout the state, state legislators, NYC Council and Mayor Bloomberg. Additionally, the reforms are supported by law enforcement leaders from across the state, including NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, all five NYC District Attorneys (Democrat and Republican) and District Attorneys from Long Island, Buffalo, Albany, and police leaders like the Albany Sheriff and Rochester Police Chief. The New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post, the Syracuse Times-Standard, and the Buffalo News are among the papers that have written editorials in support the of the reform.
CONTACT: Nantasha Williams 518-455-5327, email@example.com or Gabriel Sayegh 646-335-2264
Cuomo: Marijuana Arrests That “Stigmatize and Criminalize…Must End Now”
Proposal Would Standardize Penalties, End Tens of Thousands of Annual Unlawful, Biased Marijuana Possession Arrests
NEW YORK: Today in his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo made a passionate call for reforming New York’s marijuana possession laws in order to reduce unlawful, biased, and costly arrests. The governor noted the discrepancy in the law between public and private possession of small amounts of marijuana, and proposed standardizing penalties for possession.
In his prepared written statement, the governor referenced the original intent of the marijuana possession law from 1977: “The legislature finds that arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties are inappropriate for people who possess small quantities of marihuana for personal use. Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crime.”
Today, marijuana possession is the number one arrest in New York City. The governor cited the harmful outcomes of these arrests – racial disparities, stigma, fiscal waste, criminalization – and called on the legislature to act: “It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now.”
A powerful statewide coalition of community groups, faith and civil rights leaders, parents and young people applauded the Governor’s strong leadership in tackling this issue.
“We cannot have the same laws applied differently to different groups of people when the dividing line is race,” said gabriel sayegh, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The governor’s proposal is an essential step towards bringing greater fairness and equity to both our drug laws and policing practices in our state. The criminalization of our young people must end — the legislature must now act now to pass the governor’s bill.”
Last year, Governor Cuomo introduced similar legislation to reform the law, but it the Senate refused to act – despite the fact that the reform proposal was supported by law enforcement leaders throughout the state, including Commissioner Ray Kelly, all five City district attorneys, Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard, and many others.
“I hope Senator Skelos and the entire legislature heard Governor Cuomo loud and clear when he said it’s time to end marijuana arrests that ‘stigmatize and criminalize’ young people of color, which have been one of the leading consequences of stop and frisk,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL-NY’s Civil Rights Organizer. “Governor Cuomo’s right that these arrests mean more than a night in jail – they can have lasting effects on a person’s access to jobs, housing and a better future.”
“With stop and frisk and needless criminalization, too many of our young people are swept up in the criminal justice system. Governor Cuomo’s reform proposal is a critical step towards a brighter future for our youth,” said Kyung Ji Kate Rhee of Center for NuLeadership. “Instead of wasting money on these arrests, we should be investing in community development and resources that are far more effective at guiding our youth in the choices they make towards fulfilling their best potential.”
The need for reform is abundantly clear: In the last 15 years, over 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession, mostly in New York City. More than 50,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in the City in 2011 alone, far exceeding the total marijuana arrests from 1981-1995. Most of those arrested, nearly 85%, are Black and Latino, mostly young men – despite federal government data on drug use showing that whites use marijuana at higher rates. The costs of these arrests to taxpayers is at least $75 million a year. Last year, the New York City Council passed a resolution calling on Albany to act. Governor Cuomo’s proposal would end tens of thousands of racially biased and unlawful marijuana possession.
Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264
A Colorado-based marijuana company has enlisted the help of one of Albany’s most influential lobbyists to make medical marijuana a reality in Andrew Cuomo’s “progressive” New York. But the chances of the Empire State getting prescription pot any time soon aren’t great.
Gaia Plant Based Medicine has recruited former Sheldon Silver aide Pat Lynch’s lobbying firm to urge lawmakers — and Cuomo — to legalize medical marijuana in New York.
However, despite overwhelming legislative and public approval (anywhere from 60-percent to 80-percent of New Yorkers support medical marijuana, depending on which poll you look at), Cuomo has said he won’t approve a bill legalizing medical marijuana.
Earlier this year, Cuomo said he’s still “studying” the pros and cons of medical marijuana.
“There are tremendous risks,” the governor told reporters in April. “I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point.”
We’ve repeatedly asked the governor’s office what “risks” he was referring to, however, we’ve repeatedly been given no answer.
The problem for Cuomo isn’t that New York doesn’t support medical marijuana — or that there are any actual “risks” in allowing people suffering from medical illnesses to smoke pot — it’s that he’s currently (unofficially) running for president. And explaining to the far-right why he not only allowed gay people to tie the knot, but also led the Godless crusade to end the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws – and legalized medical marijuana — will undoubtedly lead to GOP campaign ads declaring that Cuomo is pro-drugs and anti-traditional family (gasp!).
But there is some hope for medical marijuana — and we can thank that miserable shrew Sandy.
Pro-pot advocates argue that licensing fees for medical marijuana facilities could generate hundreds of millions of dollars — money that could be used to help the state to bounce back from last month’s devastating hurricane.
It now seems to be a case of politics vs. common sense. Unfortunately for the pro-pot crowd, politics are pretty powerful.
More than a year has passed since Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Department issued a memorandum ordering officers to follow a 1977 state law that bars them from arresting people with small amounts of marijuana unless the drug is being publicly displayed. Even so, a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society in June and pending in state court makes the case that the police are still arresting people illegally in clear violation of both the commissioner’s directive and the state law. More than 50,000 possession arrests were made last year.
Law enforcement officers have often described these arrests as a way of reining in criminals whose other, more serious activities present a danger to the public. But state statistics show that of the nearly 12,000 teenagers arrested last year, nearly 94 percent had no prior convictions and nearly half had never been arrested.
Now a new study by Human Rights Watch further debunks the main premise of New York City’s “broken windows” law enforcement campaign, which holds that clamping down on small offenses like simple marijuana possession prevents serious crime and gets hard-core criminals off the streets.
The study tracked about 30,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in 2003-4 — none of whom had prior convictions — for periods of six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years. The study found that about only 1,000 of them had a subsequent violent felony conviction. Some had misdemeanor or felony drug convictions, but more than 90 percent of the study group had no felony convictions whatsoever. The report concluded that the Police Department was sweeping “large numbers of people into New York City’s criminal justice system — particularly young people of color — who do not subsequently engage in violent crime.” This wastes millions of dollars and unfairly puts people through the criminal system.
In 1990, fewer than 1,000 people were arrested for minor possession. The 1977 law was intended to stop police officers from jailing young people for tiny amounts of marijuana and to allow prosecutors to focus on more serious crimes. It made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation and punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. To discourage open use of the drug, however, lawmakers made public display a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of $500.
In the past decade, civil rights lawyers have complained that police officers were arresting and charging people with public display of the drug, even though officers had found the contraband while rifling people’s pockets or after tricking them into exposing it.
Those arrested for minor possession — even if their cases are eventually dismissed — can endure grave collateral consequences. They can lose job opportunities, access to housing and can be turned away when applying for military service. About 80 percent of those arrested are black or Hispanic. This has led the legal scholars Amanda Geller and Jeffrey Fagan to label the city’s marijuana campaign “a racial tax” because it takes a heavy toll on minorities, while bringing little or nothing in the way of crime reduction.
The Legislature could go a long way toward ending unfair prosecutions by adopting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to make public display of a small amount of marijuana a violation, unless the person was smoking the drug in public.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on November 23, 2012, on page A34 of the New York edition with the headline: An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime.
East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) — There’s a renewed push for medical marijuana in New York State from those suffering with multiple sclerosis.
A special forum was held in East Syracuse to educate patients on what some claim are the benefits of marijuana.
Susan Rusinko was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000.
“It was just basically, me doing what I needed to do so that I could live my life, you know, and still be Susan Rusinko, and not be defined by MS,” she told NewsChannel 9.
Rusinko says she depends on medical marijuana and says she’s tried almost everything to deal with the pain.
“We played with dosing; you know, let’s try less of this, more of this, take this away and try that. I played that game for a long time,” she said.
She says keeping up with her family’s active lifestyle wasn’t easy. So she did her research and turned to medical marijuana.
And she’s not the only one. Many at Wednesday night’s forum admit to using it to help treat their symptoms.
Guest speaker Dr. Sunil Aggarwal has done years of research and says treatment could just be the start.
“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest, therapeutically active substances known to man,” said Dr. Aggarwal. “But more than that there’s study’s showing that potentially we could slow this, modify the disease process to potentially slow it by taking cannabis based medicines on a regular basis.”
Legalizing medical marijuana would also erase the risks of getting it illegally – from the potential of getting arrested, to not knowing exactly what you’re getting, as it’s certainly not controlled out on the street.
For now, with her family’s support, Rusinko says it’s worth the risk.
A bill to legalize medical marijuana has passed twice in the Assembly, but has failed in the Senate. The issue is expected to be reintroduced again in 2013.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Departmentissued a memorandum in September ordering officers to follow a 1977 state law that bars them from arresting people with small amounts of marijuana, unless the drug is publicly displayed.
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Yet a lawsuit filed in state court in late June charges that the police were still arresting people illegally — in clear violation of both the law and the memo — as recently as May. State data show that the number of marijuana arrests declined in the months after the directive was issued but began climbing again this spring.
The Legislature passed the 1977 decriminalization law to allow prosecutors to focus on serious crime and to stop police from jailing young people for tiny amounts of marijuana. It made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. To discourage public smoking of the drug, lawmakers made public display a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.
The number of arrests in the city for minor possession declined after the law was passed but shot up from less than 1,000 in 1990 to 50,000 in 2011. And, of the nearly 12,000 16-to-19-year-olds arrested last year, almost 94 percent had no prior convictions and nearly half had never before been arrested. More than 80 percent of those arrested were black and Hispanic young people.
Defense lawyers have increasingly made the case that officers were illegally charging suspects with “public possession” after directing them to reveal the drug or fishing it out of their pockets during constitutionally questionable searches. The new lawsuit, filed by the Legal Aid Society, lists five plaintiffs, all of whom lawyers say were illegally arrested this spring. In one case, according to the lawsuit, the police officer admitted in a supporting deposition that he had searched the individual and retrieved the drugs to make the arrest.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to end unfair prosecutions with a measure to make public possession a violation, unless the person was smoking the marijuana in public. The State Senate killed the bill. With Albany’s failure to act, the courts need to step in to stop this abusive behavior.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on July 5, 2012, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: The Marijuana Arrest Problem, Continued.
Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. In the second half of 2012, seven more states will decide, either in the state legislature or via ballot initiatives, whether they will join them in legalizing the use of marijuana, in whole or in part.
1. Illinois – House Bill 0030, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, would legalize medical marijuana on a trial basis. Physicians who diagnose their patients with debilitating conditions could prescribe medical marijuana. Patients, who would have to register with the Department of Health, would be able to possess up to 6 marjiuana plants and up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana. After three years, the Act would expire, meaning that the legislature would have the chance to decide whether to keep it in place.
2. Massachusetts- Two house bills, one to legalize marijuana for adults over 21 and the other to legalize only medical marijuana, failed to pass the state legislature. Bay Staters have gotten to work getting the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative on the ballot. Their deadline for the 68,911 signatures is right after the July 4 holiday.
3. Missouri – House Bill 1421 would allow Missourians with debilitating conditions to grow up to three marijuana plants with a yield of up to one ounce per plant. It also legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. It has not yet been voted on.
4. New York – The State Assembly will soon vote on Senate Bill 7283, which would legalize “the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, transport or administration of marihuana by a certified patient or designated caregiver for a certified medical use”.
5. New Hampshire – Senate Bill 409, authored by Republican Jim Forsythe,legalizes medical marijuana for patients who meet state-mandated criteria. In early June, the bill passed the state legislature, becoming the first medical marijuana bill to pass a Republican-led state senate. However, Gov. Jim Lynch has said he will veto the bill, necessitating further action from its supporters.
6. Ohio – In Ohio, citizens gathered enough signatures to get the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 on the ballot in November, which would create a state commission to regulate medical marijuana, functioning much like liquor controlling commissions.
7. Pennsylvania – The state senate will soon vote on SB 1003, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill may be renamed “The Governor Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” in honor of moderate Republican governor Raymond Shafer (1967-1971).
(HT: The Inquisitr)