Some advice for all New Yorkers, including a certain resident of Gracie Mansion, as they rush to reshape New York’s marijuana landscape: Slow your roll.
We say this as newly minted advocates of legalizing personal pot possession and use.
There’s a right and a wrong way to do this. The right way is crafting smart laws governing what is allowed, and in the interim, while the stuff remains illegal, letting law enforcement carefully coordinate decriminalization efforts to send clear signals.
The wrong way? Witness Mayor de Blasio.
One week ago, Hizzoner and the police commissioner announced a 30-day review by an expert NYPD working group, including a deep dive into the stubborn racial disparities that plague marijuana-related arrests and recommend reforms.
Five days into that process, showing scant respect for its findings, the mayor announced he’ll be ordering the NYPD to stop all arrests for public smoking, replacing hauls into the precinct with criminal summonses in all cases. That, even though only two of the city’s five DAs have so far committed to ending pot prosecutions.
Bad way to start a complicated conversation. If and when New York embraces full legalization, it won’t be easy to determine exactly where smoking pot, which should still be stigmatized, will be permitted, or how to ban lighting up in public.
No state that’s legalized it okays public toking. It’s either a low-level criminal infraction or a civil offense, which seems about right to us.
It’s against the law to walk around with an open alcohol container. And way back in 2002, New York made smoking of cigarettes verboten in most closed indoor spaces, a ban that’s since extended to public parks and elsewhere. Those wise prohibitions, at the very least, must apply, lest we backslide on public health.
In the meantime, let us not hyperventilate.