Members of the New York state Assembly want to criminalize fake marijuana that’s often sold at head shops and tobacco stores — which seems hilarious considering real marijuana has been de-criminalized in the Empire State since 1977.
Governor Andrew Cuomo already has banned synthetic marijuana (meaning police can confiscate it), and the state Senate already has passed legislation that adds criminal penalties for anyone caught selling or possessing faux-weed — and now it seems members of the Assembly want to do the same.
Several members of the Assembly — from both sides of the aisle —
support criminalizing fake weed, including assemblymen Felix Ortiz and
Pete Lopez (who Jimmy Vielkind at the Times Union in Albany refers to as a “serial banner-of-unhealthy-things”).
Just so we’re clear, real weed has been de-criminalized in New York for
more than 30 years, and a possession of marijuana charge is about as
serious a violation as a parking ticket.
“A bill that has a civil penalty [for possessing or selling fake weed]
doesn’t go far enough,” Lopez said at a press conference in Albany this
morning (we didn’t attend the press conference. Vielkind did, though.
See his story here).
Ortiz went further, noting that “if you don’t put teeth to [the law], people will think they can get away with it.”
One difference between real and synthetic weed that’s worth noting is
that nobody in the history of weed has ever died from a marijuana
overdose — it’s impossible. The same cannot be said about synthetic
weed — 26-year-old Aaron Stinson died in September after smoking
synthetic weed with friends. His mother now says synthetic marijuana is
“on the scale of ecstasy.”
While synthetic weed could potentially be fatal, it’s rare that it is —
synthetic weed overdoses generally result in convulsions and a trip to
the hospital, which is what landed Demi Moore in the emergency room
earlier this year.
Assemblyman Ortiz is calling us back later his afternoon to explain why
he thinks synthetic weed should be criminalized. Check back later to see
what he says.