N.Y.’s marijuana legislation has a serious enforcement loophole, police chief says

N.Y.’s marijuana legislation has a serious enforcement loophole, police chief says

By Andres Rendon


ALBANY, N.Y. — Possessing and consuming hashish is now authorized for these 21 and older, however there’s nonetheless confusion over what to do with the under-21 crowd.

Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra is anxious that the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act handed final yr has loopholes concerning under-21 enforcement, and says that the state doesn’t give police the authority to deal with these violations. He’d prefer to see a hashish model of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Management laws, which lists punishments for underage people caught with alcohol with the intent to devour.

Sinagra has ordered his division to not seize any hashish from people beneath 21, stating “there may be at present no mechanism in place to implement in opposition to mere possession in small quantities” for that age group.

Sinagra spoke with NY Hashish Insider about his considerations, solutions and conversations with the OCM to this point on the subject.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

NY Hashish Insider: How typically are minors caught with marijuana that there’s a want for extra tips?

Sinagra: We see it on a regular basis. Once I was in junior excessive, I consumed. I’m 57 years outdated, it by no means modified. After we’re on foot patrol, we come throughout an alley otherwise you stroll via one of many parks, and also you scent hashish burning, you flip round and it’s a bunch of youngsters. Up to now, beneath the outdated marijuana legislation, we had been capable of challenge a ticket and take the marijuana from you. Beneath the brand new hashish laws, we don’t have the power to try this anymore until you possess greater than three ounces.

[POLICE1 RESEARCH: Survey: 3,615 officers weigh in on the impact of marijuana legalization on policing] 

If a dad or mum was having hassle with their children doing medication like weed, previous to the brand new hashish laws, we may refer mother and father to a probation consumption, and the particular person will get placed on one thing known as a PINS, an individual in want of supervision. A dad or mum, police officer, and even college district who finds a toddler in possession or consuming hashish can file to have them in a PINS. Once they made the brand new hashish laws, they repealed the PINS part that addressed hashish. I don’t know why. I believe if we’re right here to guard our youth, PINS is an effective factor.

What would you prefer to see within the new hashish laws or city codes concerning enforcement for violators beneath 21?

What I’m searching for, actually, is for the state to take Alcohol Beverage Management laws and let’s simply mirror it, so the place it says ‘alcohol’ you simply put hashish as a substitute. That covers all of the legalities of a person who’s lower than 21 possessing. Clearly, that was by no means the intent for the Workplace of Hashish Administration to permit an individual lower than 21 years of age to own and devour.

I believe the place they get hung up is that beneath the Workplace of Hashish Administration, an individual who’s lower than 21 years of age and who’s present in possession is in violation of a civil part. We solely implement felony violations. The query that has but to be answered is ‘who’s going to implement the civil offense?’

Is there any method {that a} police officer can implement this civil offense?

The Workplace of Hashish Administration has an enforcement unit that might be established. The query is, how will it work? Do we are saying ‘hey, we discovered this particular person in possession,’ and so they come down and so they can wage a effective? Are they going to ship folks out or is it one thing within the legislation that actually isn’t enforceable?

Beneath the ABC legislation, it provides a definition of a police officer and their jurisdiction, and it provides police the authority to challenge a ticket and take the alcohol legally. The hashish legislation doesn’t give us something. We are able to’t take away hashish from somebody who’s beneath 21, even when they’re throughout the authorized restrict of three ounces or much less, as a result of the legislation doesn’t say we are able to.

Do you suppose New York State ought to have taken extra measures and waited longer earlier than passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act?

Sure. I believe, on the finish of the day, politics performed a serious half within the passing of this laws, prior to actually sitting down and ensuring that they had all of the solutions to all of the questions. I believe that was accomplished as a result of on the time the election was developing, and former Governor Cuomo was trying to get re-elected. The folks needed, for probably the most half, the legalization of hashish. However we did it so expeditiously that we ignored frequent sense.

Are there any updates in making an attempt to get new laws will deal with these loopholes?

I’m nonetheless searching for the laws. I’ve gotten some leeway and acknowledgment from representatives that they’ve reviewed the legislation and so they agree that there’s a loophole. I’ve even spoken to the Hashish Management Board as late as final week, and so they too agree. The laws wasn’t meant to have a loophole, however the loophole does exist.

I had a very good dialog with Senator Sander’s workplace, and so they listened to me, they get it, and so they perceive it. I’m beginning to get increasingly representatives which are saying ‘we have to look into this.’ It’s not simply my assumption.

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