Over the last decade, many states including New York have going through the process of decriminalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. At the end of the most recent election cycle, over half of the nation has legal marijuana use in some form. It would appear as though the nation is making a decision about how they think marijuana should be treated by the federal government. However, the incoming federal administration may have a contradicting view.
The potential penalties for possessing or selling marijuana in New York depends on several factors, including how much was possessed or sold, whether or not the defendant has prior convictions, whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony and whether or not the defendant received money in exchange for the marijuana.
After visiting inmates in New York and other states, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch released a report about the consequences of drug criminalization. The report, published on Oct. 12, focused on the harm that is caused by low-level drug charges. According to the report, there has been no decrease in drug use in decades, and criminalization may not be the answer.
An accusation of violating drug laws in New York can be serious. Depending on the details of the charges, a conviction could result in serious criminal penalties including hefty monetary fines and potential imprisonment. Additional, social penalties can also apply. These can include difficulty finding a place to live, getting a job and even losing out on scholarship opportunities.
Drug abuse is more than just an illegal activity, it is an addiction. Lawmakers throughout the country are beginning to shift their view of drug addiction. Instead of a focus on putting those who violate these laws behind bars, a growing number of lawmakers are focusing on rehabilitation efforts.
In a sweep of alleged gang members by law enforcement agencies in New York, 21 reported gang members were indicted for allegedly participating in a ring involved in drug trafficking in the Bronx. The indictments were reported by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on May 11.
New York residents may recall the media furor surrounding the 2013 arrest of a Westchester mother for allegedly running a large-scale marijuana growing and distribution operation out of a warehouse in Queens County. The woman was dubbed the 'Pot Mom" by tabloid writers, and her exploits were compared in to those of the character played by Mary Louise Parker in the hit Showtime series 'Weeds." Observers have speculated for some time that the woman has been assisting federal agents with other marijuana cases, and these suspicions were confirmed on April 19 when she received a sentence of time served in return for her cooperation.
April 20th has long been an unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts and advocates. A poll released in April 2016 says that 56 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal. This is compared to 36 percent who were polled and said that they are against legalization of marijuana. The approval rating was the highest it has ever been, and is slightly higher than the approval rating from 2015. The state of New York has legalized it for medical purposes only, but lawmakers are considering allowing its use for recreational purposes as well.
For decades, marijuana’s inclusion on the federal government's list of Schedule 1 controlled substances has been the subject of much debate and controversy. In more recent years, the possible medicinal benefits of marijuana have come to light and 23 states and Washington D.C. passed measures legalizing the drug for medical use. Additionally, today four states and D.C. have passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and several cities, including New York City, have passed measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the drug.