New York Bill Aims to Curb Cannabis Smoking in Public

A New York state proposal seeks to prohibit public cannabis use except when approved by local governments. Under current state law, cannabis can be smoked anywhere that tobacco smoking is allowed.

Full story after the jump.

A bill introduced in New York aims to restrict cannabis use in public, the Post-Journal reports. The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Novakhov, has no co-sponsors and no companion bill in the Senate, making it unlikely to gain much traction in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. 

Under New York’s cannabis legalization law, cannabis can be smoked anywhere tobacco smoking is allowed. Novakhov’s bill would prohibit public cannabis use unless approved by local governments. Under state law, tobacco smoking is not allowed at parks, on school grounds, government-owned indoor spaces, and within 30 feet of public doorways. The measure would impose a $125 fine for violating the law.

“While we no longer prosecute crimes involving small amounts of cannabis, and state law now permits recreational use by adults, 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 law has established that cannabis use is an adult activity, and it should likewise restrict this use to appropriate and considerate places.” — Novakhov in the legislative justification for A.7612

In the legislative justification, Novakhov noted that the state “has long established prohibitions against smoking tobacco in public places, given both the nuisance created by the smoke and the potential health hazards of second-hand smoke.”

“In addition, smoking is restricted to adults, as it is generally accepted that while tobacco smoking may be legal it is also in the eyes of many an undesirable habit for young people to adopt,” he wrote. “The precise same logic should dictate that cannabis smoking be treated in the same fashion.”

The measure is currently in the Assembly Economic Development Committee.

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