Why Does Marijuana Decriminalization Not Embody Concentrates?


New York, the state with the America’s most populous and one in all its most visited cities, didn’t legalize marijuana this yr. For a comfort prize, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers did move what may seem like the next-best factor: decriminalization.

As quickly as Cuomo indicators the invoice into legislation, possession of as much as two ounces of cannabis flower might be a “violation,” punishable by a nice of “not more than $200.” Somebody caught with lower than an oz. may be punished no extra severely than with a $50 nice, however an oz. of flower, solely.

For anybody possessing cannabis concentrates — together with, strictly legally talking, the contents of vape pens — the identical outdated dangerous legal guidelines are nonetheless in impact. The identical is true in different states and cities which have separate statutes for flower and concentrated cannabis, and which have failed to vary one whereas altering the opposite.

And that’s simply dangerous coverage, advocates say.

The change in state legislation follows Cuomo’s failure to legalize, but it surely additionally follows strikes made by district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Final summer season, prosecutors in these two boroughs introduced they’d cease prosecuting low-level possession circumstances, and will police — whose arduous work made New York Metropolis one of the crucial punitive locations in the USA for marijuana, with extra arrests per capita than deep-red states like Oklahoma — please cease bringing them such weak circumstances?

They did cease. And that, in flip, led to a decent-sized explosion within the cannabis trade, with emboldened supply providers increasingly aggressively advertising and marketing their product to increasingly emboldened cannabis customers.

(Reader, I can let you know: It’s simpler than ever earlier than to acquire and eat cannabis in New York Metropolis, a spot the place not too way back, police have been thrilled to make possession arrests.)

Nevertheless, the tough marijuana penalties have been nonetheless on the books, and “decriminalization” was solely nearly as good because the native DA — a promise, and never a assure. 

The statewide decriminalization invoice, sponsored by state Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey, particularly lowered penalties for “illegal possession” of lower than an oz. to $50. And “a number of preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an combination weight of a couple of ounce” is punishable by a $200 nice.

At first look, that definition may appear to seize concentrates—at the very least, it ought to. However, in line with advocates and protection attorneys, it doesn’t.

Concentrates are outlined individually from “marihuana,” underneath New York Penal Regulation 220, which Bailey’s invoice doesn’t change.

“Lower than an oz. of cannabis focus might result in a felony cost,” warns legal professional Stephanie Selloni, a Lengthy Island-based prison protection lawyer, on her web site. Quite simple possession — getting hassled for a vape pen, or being discovered with a gram or two of shatter — is a misdemeanor, punishable by a yr in jail and a $1,000 nice.

Realistically, New York Metropolis isn’t out of the blue a forbidden zone for cannabis concentrates. In March, NYPD advised a Metropolis Council listening to that they wouldn’t trouble making “THC oil” arrests, until the oil in query contained the identical compounds present in artificial concoctions like K2 — gross sales of that are banned within the state, but nonetheless occur at nook shops and gasoline stations.

However loads of New York isn’t in New York Metropolis. And on the similar time, there’s nonetheless a legislation on the books criminalizing concentrates, which, in a pharmacological sense, are similar to flower cannabis, with the identical energetic components: tetrahydrocannabinol (and different cannabinoids), and terpenes. 

Treating them in another way legally, particularly in an period when concentrates proceed to develop in reputation, makes zero sense.

“The notion of decriminalizing flower whereas leaving prison penalties in place for concentrates is analogous to giving a parking ticket to a automobile whereas impounding a truck for a similar expired meter,” Justin Strekal, NORML’s political directo, advised Hashish Now in an e-mail. “It’s disingenuous to make the excellence and ends in perpetuating the failed insurance policies of the Conflict on Medicine.”

TELL US, does it make sense to you to have stricter penalties for cannabis concentrates versus cannabis flowers?


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