The legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana has been a hot topic across the country for the past several years. Many states have legalized cannabis for recreational smoking and “edibles,” and some of those that have not, do allow certain people to purchase and use the drug to relieve pain and other symptoms of serious medical conditions. However, New York continues to have some of the strictest laws in the country regarding cannabis use. If you understand the basics of marijuana laws in New York, you may avoid potentially serious criminal charges.
While a majority of New Yorkers and people across the country have a favorable view of marijuana, it does not mean the criminal justice system feels the same way. Marijuana laws in the Empire State range from light to harsh, depending on a variety of factors, including whether the offender has cannabis for personal use or distribution.
Most New Yorkers want recreational marijuana to be legal. According to the NY Daily News, 62 percent of voters in New York support legalizing recreational cannabis for people who are 21 years old and older. There have been legislative efforts to legalize pot in New York over the past few years, but they have no traction yet.
If you receive a conviction for a serious drug offense, you can expect that it will impact numerous areas of your life. From your ability to find a job to your ability to secure housing or student loans, a serious drug conviction can have severe collateral consequences that can impact your life for many years and even permanently.
When you face drug charges, you are already aware of possible jail time, high fines, a criminal record and other legal consequences. Perhaps these do not even bother you that much, or you do not see the point in trying to fight a likely conviction.
The media has been widely reporting on the current epidemic facing the United States in terms of addiction and overdose deaths due to heroin use. What has been reported less widely, however, is the link between prescription painkillers and how their use may lead to addiction. Many people who are currently addicted to opioids, including the illegal drugs heroin and its synthetic counterparts such as fentanyl, may have become addicted first to a prescription painkiller. This is an important area to clarify and explore because beyond the high risk of death by overdose, an addiction that culminates in illegal drug use can lead to arrest and the potential for a conviction that may carry a heavy prison sentence.
When you think about the typical drug offender, there are a number of variables that may be interchangeable, but the gender of your suspect is likely male. Indeed, statistics show that men face the most drug-related arrests and convictions. This is interesting given the fact that, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, two-thirds of federally incarcerated women are doing time for a drug offense.
Treatment of drugs in the United States is undeniably in a state of transition. While many states move to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, law enforcement continues to crack down on other substances. This is not without cause; according to the New York Times, drug-related deaths and overdoses are skyrocketing like never before.
New York City has a diverse racial, religious and cultural population, which is part of what makes the area so interesting. However, it also makes the people subject to racial profiling by law enforcement, and it is no secret that tensions are high between police and minorities.
New Yorkers arrested based on drug crime allegations may face additional risks. In some drug cases, federal prosecutors may decide to pursue RICO charges, increasing the level of potential penalties.