NYPD Ordered to Ignore People Smoking Marijuana in Public Since Legalization Took Effect

NY is about to become the 15th state in the republic to legalize marijuana, after years of attempting to pass a bill. Photo Credit: AP

By: Ilana Siyance

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law legalizing the recreational use, sale and growing of marijuana, last Wednesday. After that, a four-page memo was distributed to police instructing them as to the implications of the new state law.  Enforcement is not an option.

As reported by Fox News, cops who see adults light up and smoke weed in public, should ignore any exchange unless money is directly being paid.  Persons above the age of 21 may legally smoke weed “almost anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed including on sidewalks, on front stoops and other places.” The memo says that smoking “in any of these locations is not a basis for an approach, stop, summons, arrest or search.”

Police will no longer be authorized to search vehicles based on the smell of marijuana. Police also may not “approach, stop or detain” a parolee for smoking or possessing pot, “even if they know the ex-con isn’t supposed to be getting high” as per Fox News.  In such an event, cops may merely “notify the relevant parole officers”.  If a driver appears clearly wasted and stinks of weed or admits to “having smoked recently,” cops may search only the vehicle’s passenger compartment, but not the trunk “unless the officer develops separate probable cause to believe the trunk contains evidence of a crime (e.g. gun recovered from under driver seat)”, the memo to law enforcement reads.

The new law, which has mostly gone into effect immediately, also includes rules which will be phased in gradually.  This includes leniencies on how much licensed dispensaries will be allowed to sell.  The new law stipulates that adults can grow as many as 12 pot plants per household and keep a five-pound stash at home.  Five pounds is enough to roll over 3,330 joints, based on data from a 2010 study by the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The situation will likely lead to more than just foul-smelling streets, according to some.  One NYPD source told Fox News that the new tolerance could spell disaster for the public safety of New York citizens.  “We always say, ‘Drugs equal guns. When you smelled weed, you could pull a car over. Now, you can’t pull them over…that’s bad, especially with all the gun violence going on.”