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Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Marijuana Industry News March 22, 2013

tom ammiano

Tom Ammiano Back with New California Legalization Bill…

The lack of a statewide system in place to regulate medical marijuana has plagued California since the program’s inception in 1996.  A patchwork of legal fixes have either been implemented or proposed, but no effort, to date, has really solved the issue.  Federal authorities would likely be less motivated to conduct raids if a uniform set of laws was instituted in California.  Other states, such as Colorado have experienced far less problems with organized crime and federal interference due in large part to proper regulation at the state level.  State Assemblyman, Tom Ammiano, is trying to get a bill passed that would set up a state regulated system.  He has attempted this previously, only to find resistance from both law enforcement and activists.  Many accused his proposal of being too vague.  Mr. Ammiano is back with a new proposal and law enforcement is already issuing criticism.  The bill would have marijuana be regulated like alcohol, an idea that is clearly gaining momentum as both Colorado and Washington have passed similar laws.


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Marijuana Arrests Cost NYC One Million Police Hours During Mayor Bloomberg’s Tenure as Mayor


New York’s “Stop and Frisk”, a legal loophole used by law enforcement to defeat the spirit of the state’s marijuana decriminalization bill, has been receiving considerable media attention as of late.  Community organizers have been vocal in letting NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly know that they do not support the high arrests for small marijuana possession.  These arrests tend to target Black and Hispanic teens.  Governor Cuomo is trying to get Albany lawmakers to adopt new legislation to put an end to “Stop and Frisk”.  A new statistic will likely embolden the Governor and residents who wish to see their tax dollars put to better use.   According to the Drug Policy Alliance, New York City has spent over one million police hours pursuing marijuana arrests since Michael Bloomberg became mayor (11 years ago).   In a city as vast and populated as New York, residents are getting fed up with the direction law enforcement has taken.  Many neighborhoods are still dangerous and police may be able to utilize their time in a way that would help the city.  The relationship between police and residents has degenerated, due in large part to “Stop and Frisk.”


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Push For Medical Marijuana in Florida Gets Huge Financial Support…

Although many associate Florida with retirees, the Sunshine State is also known for its large number of indoor marijuana grows.  Even though penalty and cultivation penalties are harsh in Florida, the black market for marijuana is tremendous, especially as so many seek physical relief.  Past efforts to legalize marijuana in Florida have failed.  However, activists may find more success as they are about to be bankrolled by two top democratic fundraisers in Florida.  One the individuals is John Morgan, who recently became the chairman of the People United for Medical Marijuana-Florida.  The group has previously struggled to raise enough money to get their message out.  Kim Russell, the group’s founder recently said they “were just scraping pennies together” to get by.  John Morgan appears ready to take his successful political fundraising techniques to the group.  Earlier this week he said “I’m prepared to keep raising money and writing checks until I get the signatures to put it on the ballot.”  Political analysts are wondering how influential John Morgan’s fundraising can be, especially as he has raised considerable funds for high profile candidates, including President Barack Obama.

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Albany Bickering Stalls Governor’s Marijuana Reform Plan


New York City is often viewed as the center for progressive politics.  However, New York State is much more balanced politically.  When a state oversees a city on the level of New York, lawmakers often bicker as they try to represent their own constituencies.

Concerned New York City residents are finding this out the hard way.   New York has desperately needed a change in it’s “Stop and Frisk” policy.  Though possession of less than 25g of cannabis was decriminalized in New York during the 1970s it must not be used or held in public view.  “Stop and Frisk” offers a loophole for police to demand that individuals empty their pockets, leaving the cannabis in plain site.  Families are left to deal with the impact of an unnecessary arrest that could follow their child around for the rest of their lives.  As we have mentioned previously, the “Stop and Frisk” law seems to unfairly target young Black and Hispanics.  New York City residents have lobbied for years to change the controversial practice but have not succeeded.

In a move that made headlines nationally, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to change a failed policy that is costing the state money and incarcerating its youth.  While many members of the media pursued the easy story and poked fun at the governor, many were pleased to see what appears to be an evolving view for the governor.  The reform will be delayed at best and even perhaps discarded.  Some Albany Republicans lashed out against the plan in the usual silly and predictable over the top fashion.  Dean Skelos claimed he was worried about a law that allowed people to “walk around with ten joints in each ear”.  However, many who represent law enforcement welcomed a plan to get rid of the low level marijuana arrests.  NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of the plan (though he has defended “Stop and Frisk” previously).  Additionally, NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also wanted to see a change in the law.  There will not be enough time during the current legislative session to bring the issue back up.

This is not unusual for Albany lawmakers.  Albany reflects the diversity of New York State, complete with lawmakers who are from opposite sides of the aisle and are not always willing to work together.  Analysts believe that Republicans are still stinging from a defeat on same sex marriage as New York became one of the few states to recognize the unions. It appears that NY Republicans are ignoring one of their key voting blocks (law enforcement officials) and are attempting to appease a base that is upset with same sex marriage and cares little for New York’s incarcerated youth.

Of course political revenge is not going to satisfy New York City residents who are tired of witnessing dysfunction among Albany politicians .  Efforts to eliminate “Stop and Frisk” will continue and lawmakers from both parties are going to have to consider the fact that they may have pursued political posturing instead of the pleas of residents.

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