The New York State Legislature’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana in 2021 was deeply ill-advised. The state’s marijuana law is deleterious to public health, may lead to more traffic accidents, and has led Gov. Kathy Hochul to become a drug pusher. Those are not the only negative consequences of New York’s pot law, however. As many New Yorkers—especially New Yorkers in urban areas—can attest, marijuana legalization has allowed the acrid stench of marijuana to permeate public places that are part of our daily lives.
Sen. George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay) and Asm. Michael Novakhov (R-Brooklyn) have introduced a bill that could, at the very least, help with our state’s marijuana odor problem. Their new bill, Bill S.7604-Borrello/A.7612-Novakhov, would ban the public consumption of marijuana except in areas that are designated for marijuana use by a given municipality. Under this bill, persons using marijuana in public would be fined $125.00.
As the bill memorandum correctly notes, “‘a great many New Yorkers would much prefer not to be exposed to either the effects of cannabis smoke or to its smell, and would likewise prefer that their children not be exposed at an early age to seeing cannabis smoking.” The proposed legislation would give communities throughout our state the freedom to choose for themselves whether, and where, marijuana could be used in public.
Under current law, it is legal to smoke marijuana in any location where tobacco smoking is legal. Sen. Borrello argues that marijuana is different from alcohol because its use “‘can result in cognitive and motor impairment, similar to alcohol. Individuals in this condition, on sidewalks or other public places, represent a potential hazard to themselves or others.’”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms thanks Sen. Borrello and Asm. Novakhov for introducing this common-sense bill. We encourage New York’s local governments to pressure the Legislature to pass it.