Tens of thousands of low-level marijuana convictions could be erased
with the OK of Brooklyn's top prosecutor, under a new plan for wiping
records clean of offenses no longer being prosecuted in parts of the
nation's biggest city.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Friday he is inviting people
to request conviction dismissals. He expects prosecutors will consent
in the great majority of a potential 20,000 cases since 1990 and an
unknown number of older ones.
To Gonzalez, whose office has stopped prosecuting most cases involving
people accused of having small amounts of pot, it's only right to nix
convictions that wouldn't be pursued now.
[continues 491 words]
A few years ago when I served on the board of the co-op building where
I live in Brooklyn Heights - a fact suggesting a degree of squareness
so profound it should discredit my authority to go on - my next-door
neighbor came to me with recurring complaints that her apartment, at
various points, but mostly in the evenings, reeked of pot (that,
children, is what we of the Atari generation call it) so intensely
that it seemed as if someone had come in and lit up right on her sofa.
That her oldest daughter began to worry that she was getting a contact
high while she was doing her homework made me despair for a generation
and suggested that perhaps a certain unwarranted hysteria had taken
hold. Then one night, at a moment of extreme fragrancy, my neighbor
texted and asked me to come over and take a sniff for myself, and it
seemed as if I had walked into a commune in the Redwoods sometime
between the Tet offensive and the presidency of Gerald Ford.
[continues 772 words]
New York City's Police Department suffered a major embarrassment this
spring when a New York Times investigation demolished the department's
claim that people of color were more likely than others to be arrested
on petty marijuana charges, because citizens in their communities
complained more about pot smoking. The investigation found that even
when complaints were factored in, the police nearly always arrested
people at a higher rate in black areas.
A new policy Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday will lead to
fewer people being arrested for smoking marijuana in public. But the
new approach - in which officers would usually issue summonses instead
of hauling people off to jail - does not address the core problem of
racial inequality and poses new dangers.
[continues 466 words]
A marijuana user poses a joint over some ground marijuana Thursday,
Nov. 4, 2010 in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona voters were literally split
evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes,
leaving the proposition far too close to call.
A marijuana user poses a joint over some ground marijuana Thursday,
Nov. 4, 2010 in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona voters were literally split
evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes,
leaving the proposition far too close to call. (Matt York / AP)
[continues 541 words]
ALBANY -- A Cuomo administration panel will recommend New York State
legalize recreational use of marijuana, the state's health
commissioner said Monday.
But the long-awaited report by the group has still not been released
as the State Legislature looks to end its 2018 session on Wednesday --
leaving action for this year on the matter all but impossible.
Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's top health regulator, said public
health, law enforcement and others inside and outside government, have
been examining the issue of marijuana legalization since Gov. Andrew
M. Cuomo asked for a study on the issue in January.
[continues 969 words]
The district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn are weighing plans to
stop prosecuting the vast majority of people arrested on marijuana
charges, potentially curbing the consequences of a law that in New
York City is enforced most heavily against black and Hispanic people.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office, which in 2014 decided to stop
prosecuting many low-level marijuana cases, is considering expanding
its policy so that more people currently subject to arrest on
marijuana charges, including those who smoke outside without creating
a public nuisance, would not be prosecuted, one official familiar with
the discussions said.
[continues 1661 words]
If you've walked around New York City lately, there's a good chance
you've smelled weed. People smoke walking their dogs in the West
Village, and they smoke in apartment building lobbies in the South
Bronx. They smoke outside bars and restaurants and in the park.
White people largely don't get arrested for it. Black and Hispanic
people do, despite survey after survey saying people of most races
smoke at similar rates.
So after a senior police official recently testified to the City
Council that there was a simple justification - he said more people
call 911 and 311 to complain about marijuana smoke in black and
Hispanic neighborhoods - we decided to dig into the numbers the New
York Police Department gave lawmakers to support that claim.
[continues 689 words]
After years of halting steps, top prosecutors and elected officials in
New York City on Tuesday made a sudden dash toward ending many of the
marijuana arrests that for decades have entangled mostly black and
The plans, still unwritten and under negotiation, will rise or fall on
the type of conduct involving marijuana that officials decide should
still warrant arrest and prosecution. The changes appear likely to
create a patchwork of prosecution policies across the city's five
boroughs, and are unlikely to restrict police officers from stopping
and searching people on suspicion of possessing a drug that is now
legal in a number of states.
[continues 1001 words]
They sit in courtroom pews, almost all of them young black men,
waiting their turn before a New York City judge to face a charge that
no longer exists in some states: possessing marijuana. They tell of
smoking in a housing project hallway, or of being in a car with a
friend who was smoking, or of lighting up a Black & Mild cigar the
police mistake for a blunt.
There are many ways to be arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern
has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York:
The primary targets are black and Hispanic people.
[continues 1833 words]
The New York Police Department has claimed that more black and Latino
people are arrested for petty marijuana offenses because complaints
are more voluminous in neighborhoods where black and Latino people
predominantly live. That excuse was blown apart this weekend by a
Times investigation showing that the complaints about marijuana use do
not fully account for the racial arrest gap - and that, when
complaints were held constant, "the police almost always made arrests
at a higher rate in the area with more black citizens."
[continues 533 words]
NEW YORK -- CNN's medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has taken the
unusual step of publicly urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to
reconsider his opposition to medical marijuana, particularly as a way
to fight the opioid epidemic.
Gupta wrote a public letter to Sessions, saying that he had changed
his mind on the use of medical marijuana, and he's certain Sessions
can, too. Research and talking to people who say marijuana has eased
pain and weaned them off opioids convinced him.
It's an unusual step for a journalist to move into advocacy, by
sending a letter to the attorney general. But Gupta says he believes
this falls into the category of telling truth to power.
A week after telling two interviewers her support for legalizing
recreational use of marijuana in New York was revenue-based,
Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Wednesday that
it's now foremost a racial justice issue for her.
The "Sex and the City" star posted a 90-second video on YouTube in
which she stated that it's time New York joined eight other states and
the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
"There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me,
it comes down to this: we have to stop putting people of color in jail
for something that white people do with impunity," Nixon said.
[continues 466 words]
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday called for the creation of a state
panel to advise him on whether New York should legalize recreational
Cuomo did not specifically embrace a legalization effort, and said the
advisory group, which will include State Police representation, is
meant to get to the "facts" of the issue.
"I think we should fund (Department of Health) to do a study, let them
work with the State Police, other agencies, look at the health impact,
the economic impact, the state of the law. If it was legalized in
Jersey and it was legal in Massachusetts and the federal government
allowed it to go ahead, what would that do to New York because it's
right in the middle?" Cuomo said.
[continues 229 words]
Just a few weeks ago, Joel A. Giambra the lobbyist was working the
State Capitol's hallways advocating the legalization of marijuana.
Now he works a different Capitol angle as a Republican hopeful for
governor, proposing that legalized and tightly regulated marijuana
sales represent the best way to address the state's massive
infrastructure and mass transit needs.
"I'm saying raising taxes is not the solution," he said during a
Monday press conference on Niagara Street. "My job would be to
convince the Legislature that this is the most appropriate way to deal
with this particular problem of infrastructure."
[continues 405 words]
The five medical marijuana companies in New York have filed a lawsuit
to block new cannabis businesses, claiming the growth threatens to
kill the fledgling industry that has struggled to sell the drug to
critically ill patients.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the state Department of Health from allowing
five new companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York. The
companies in the legal fight include Vireo Health and Etain, which are
selling cannabis-based drugs at dispensaries in downtown White Plains
and Yonkers, The Journal News/lohud has learned from court records.
There is also a dispensary in Kingston, Ulster County.
[continues 913 words]
ALBANY - New Yorkers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
will now be able to use medical marijuana as a form of treatment.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law Saturday that added PTSD to the list of
conditions eligible for medical marijuana in New York.
"As of today, marijuana will be legalized if a doctor authorizes and
finds the condition of PTSD for a veteran, and I think that can help
thousands of veterans. It's something that we've been talking about
for a long time, and I'm glad we're taking action," Cuomo said.
[continues 413 words]
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to add
post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of ailments that can
legally be treated with medical marijuana.
The PTSD bill was part of a package of legislation that Cuomo signed
Saturday to mark Veterans Day.
The Democratic governor said 19,000 New Yorkers with PTSD could be
helped by medical marijuana.
He said the potential beneficiaries include veterans as well as police
officers and survivors of domestic violence, crime and accidents.
[continues 55 words]
In just three years, the number of marijuana arrests in Buffalo
dropped by more than half.
At the same time, the overwhelming majority of people arrested
continued to be people of color.
A new study, released Tuesday, found 86 percent of the people arrested
for marijuana possession in Buffalo during the five year-period ending
last year were black or Hispanic.
In Erie County, people of color accounted for 77 percent of all
marijuana possession arrests over the same five-year period, according
to the study.
[continues 587 words]
ALBANY -- New York is looking for industrial hemp growers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that an application period is
open to participate in the state's Industrial Hemp Agricultural
Research Pilot Program.
The program is open to researchers, farmers and businesses who wish to
research, grow, manufacture and produce industrial hemp in New York.
"By expanding industrial hemp research, we are opening the doors to
innovative ideas that could provide a major boost to our farms and
communities, creating new jobs, and laying the foundation for future
economic growth," Cuomo said in a statement.
[continues 143 words]
Prosecutors say the false compartments in Harinder Dhaliwal's tractor
trailers was the innovation that allowed more than 3 tons of cocaine
to move through Buffalo.
By Dhaliwal's own admission, the 6,600 pounds of cocaine he and others
smuggled into Canada had a street value of $120 million.
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the 47-year old Brampton, Ont.,
man to 20 years in prison.
"There is no other case like this," said Assistant U.S. Attorney
Timothy C. Lynch. "We've never seen this amount of drugs before."
[continues 327 words]
Whether you love it or hate it, it's a fact that 29 states so far have
some form of marijuana decriminalization or legalization, with more
considering the possibility. People have strong opinions about the
legalization of marijuana -- but how often are those opinions based on
science and an understanding of evolving best practices?
It's high time we have a national conversation that is rational,
science-based and open-minded around the many public health
implications. Substance use disorders, youth prevention, drugged
driving, health effects, pesticides -- the list is long, and these
questions make it a complex process for states working to translate
policy and legislation into reasonable regulation.
[continues 412 words]
ALBANY - New York will allow ointments, lozenges and chewable tablets
as part of its medical marijuana program while the state's training
program for doctors will be cut in half, the Department of Health
Health regulators on Thursday proposed a new set of regulations that
would further expand the state's medical marijuana program, which the
state has tried to broaden as it faced criticism from patient
advocates and marijuana companies for its restrictiveness.
The new rules, which can take effect as soon as late September, ease
the state's restrictions on the type of marijuana products available
to certified patients by allowing lotions, ointments, patches, certain
chewables and lozenges.
[continues 404 words]
NEW YORK -- A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with
heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States
for the past three years, a report reveals.
None were known to exist in the US until the disclosure in a medical
journal, although several states and cities are pushing to establish
these so-called supervised injection sites, where users can shoot up
under the care of trained staff who can treat an overdose if necessary.
In the report released Tuesday, two researchers said they've been
evaluating an underground safe place that opened in 2014. As a
condition of their research, they didn't disclose the location of the
facility -- which is unsanctioned and potentially illegal -- or the
social service agency running it.
[continues 547 words]
NEW YORK (AP) - AlphaBay, the now-shuttered online marketplace that
authorities say traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit
goods, wasn't all that different from any other e-commerce site, court
Not only did it work hard to match buyers and sellers and to stamp out
fraud, it offered dispute-resolution services when things went awry
and kept a public-relations manager to promote the site to new users.
This screen grab provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows a
hidden website that has been seized as part of a law enforcement
operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement
Administration and European law enforcement agencies acting through
Europol. On Thursday, July 20, 2017, authorities announced that two of
the world's most notorious "darknet" marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa,
have been knocked out in a one-two punch that officials say yielded a
trove of new intelligence about drugs and weapons merchants that
operate from hidden corners of the internet. (U.S. Department of
Justice via AP)
[continues 504 words]
A special legislative task force formed to examine the effect of the
opioid addiction scourge on Long Island and elsewhere throughout the
state is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Mineola.
The State Senate's Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction
meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the NYU Winthrop Hospital Research
and Academic Center in Mineola, a hospital spokesman said.
Similar meetings have been held around the state as the task force
seeks to understand how the increase in overdoses and addiction
connected to heroin and other opioids is impacting
[continues 135 words]
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has compared cannabis to heroin.
NEW YORK - In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for
conservatives, last year's elections also yielded a win for liberals
in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational
But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney
General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.
A task force Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between
violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by
the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll
back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws
to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.
[continues 650 words]
Now the state is taking steps to increase the crop.
"We want to be the nation's leader in hemp production,'' Gov. Andrew
Cuomo said Wednesday shortly before signing legislation intended to
boost the commercialization of industrial hemp, which is used in some
25,000 products from cosmetics and animal feed to clothing and biofuels.
The state is also pumping $10 million into research for the
now-fledgling industry, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball
said, after the federal government in 2014 relaxed rules governing the
growing of the crop. Industrial hemp, unlike its marijuana cousin,
contains no or minimal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient
that gets users high.
[continues 325 words]
ALBANY - Veterans groups are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow those
with post-traumatic stress disorder to use medical marijuana, urging
him to sign a bill that will soon head to his desk.
The state Senate voted late last month to add PTSD to the list of
illnesses and ailments eligible for the state's medical-marijuana
program, about six weeks after the Assembly voted to do the same.
It remains unclear, however, whether Cuomo will sign the bill that
could significantly expand the number of eligible patients in New
York's medical-marijuana program, which is among the more restrictive
in the nation.
[continues 517 words]
School districts on Long Island and statewide are stocking naloxone
onsite in school buildings to have the opioid antidote at the ready
because of the growing issue of abuse of the deadly drugs, educators
and health officials said.
At least 340 schools across the state, including dozens on Long
Island, have provided training for school nurses or other personnel
about how to administer naloxone, according to the state Education
The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, based in
Westbury, also has seen interest grow in instructing school personnel
about the antidote, said Reisa Berg, director of education and prevention.
[continues 1060 words]
A Wilson man said Friday that he was under the influence of marijuana
when he caused a fatal crash last summer in Porter.
Michael A. Buchalski II, 22, of Randall Road, pleaded guilty to
criminally negligent homicide and driving while impaired by drugs, in
exchange for a two-year sentence - one year on each count - in the
Niagara County Jail.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. scheduled sentencing
for Aug. 11. The judge also revoked Buchalski's bail and sent him to
jail immediately to begin serving his time for causing the death of
Michael G. Willimott Jr., 38, of Niagara Falls.
[continues 389 words]
ALBANY - When the State of New York approved the use of medical
marijuana in 2014, the applicants to dispense the drug were vetted and
reviewed by a panel of experts said to have deep backgrounds in
The identities of the panel's members had been a mystery since. By
July 2015, the panel had chosen five companies that would receive
exclusive statewide medical marijuana licenses, a potentially
lucrative award in a state with nearly 20 million residents and
hundreds of thousands of potential patients.
[continues 927 words]
At every school in New Rochelle, just north of the Bronx, in
Westchester, there is a locked medicine cabinet in the nurse's office,
stocked with things like EpiPens for allergic reactions, inhalers for
asthma, Tylenol for aches and pains.
Now, those cabinets also include naloxone, an antidote for people who
are overdosing on opioids like heroin. Given as an injection or a
nasal spray, naloxone can quickly revive someone who is not breathing.
The city keeps it in every nurse's office, including in its elementary
[continues 1160 words]
[photo] Kate Hintz of North Salem, with her daughter, Morgan Jones,
diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. Hintz, director of Compassionate Care New
York, says the state must expand access with more dispensaries.(Photo:
COURTESY/Jennifer Tonetti Spellman.)
The problems with New York's medical marijuana program are well documented.
From the day the Compassionate Care Act was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo,
patient advocates knew that the law -- a compromise born of a nearly 20
year struggle -- was seriously flawed.
Those flaws are numerous, and they all work against patients: a very
limited number of eligible conditions, restricting patient certification
only to physicians, severely restricting the number of producers and
dispensaries, limiting to five the number of products a company could
sell, and prohibiting forms of the medicine that have proved popular and
effective in other states.
[continues 649 words]
Mom guilt is here to stay. The stress of trying to be a calm, nurturing
parent while also trying to keep our jobs, stay on top of school notices
and remain married isn't going away. Not to mention the feeling that we're
doing none of them particularly well.
But that won't stop some people from trying anything. Author Ayelet
Waldman, for instance, tried LSD. In her new book, "A Really Good Day,"
she documents her experiment with "microdosing," taking very small
quantities of LSD -- enough to make you calmer, more aware of your
environment, more able to focus on your work, but without all those wacky
[continues 684 words]
[photo] The state senator wants more drug disposal sites and access to
medication to treat addiction.
NEW CITY - Opioid deaths, including fatal heroin overdoses, are on the
rise in Rockland County, where state Sen. David Carlucci is pushing a pair
of proposals to help addicts.
There were 37 opioid deaths in Rockland last year, up from 25 in 2015,
according to a report from the Rockland County Medical Examiner's Office.
That's compared to 36 opioid deaths in total between 2003 and 2009 in
Rockland, according to Carlucci's office.
[continues 192 words]
Even as more and more states allow their residents to use marijuana, the
federal government is continuing to obstruct scientists from studying
whether the drug is good or bad for people's health.
A report published last week by the National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering and Medicine points out that scientists who want to study
cannabis have to seek approvals from federal, state and local agencies and
depend on just one lab, at the University of Mississippi, for samples. As
a result, far too little is known about the health effects of a substance
that 28 states have decided can be used as medicine and eight states and
the District of Columbia have approved for recreational use.
[continues 408 words]
Nineteen suspected opiate deaths in the first 19 days of January have Erie
County on pace for 365 deaths in 2017.
It could be worse. Last year started more deadly.
During the early weeks and months of 2016, the epidemic was claiming so
many lives that county officials projected more than 500 people would die
that year. The pace, however, slowed as the county took aggressive steps,
including promotion of the widespread use of the opiate antidote Naloxone.
By year's end, 247 people had died in confirmed overdoses, with 77 more
suspected deaths, officials said Thursday.
[continues 671 words]
Women can blame their cocaine addictions on their biology, according to a
new study that claims that ladies are more susceptible to the drug's
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, specifically spikes in
estrogen, intensify the drug's pleasurable effects, according to
researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on The Upper East
"Our study will change the way we think about addiction research to
emphasize the need to further understand female subjects, as most research
on addiction has been conducted in male subjects," the study's lead
author, Dr. Erin Calipari, said in a statement.
[continues 313 words]
Joseph Tigano III is spending 20 years in prison for growing marijuana.
He grew a lot of it. No one disputes that. And this was his second felony
conviction. So no one, not even Tigano's lawyers, suggests the Cattaraugus
County man should go unpunished.
But 20 years?
Even the federal judge who sentenced Tigano in 2015 thought it was too
heavy a price to pay.
"It is much greater than necessary," U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A.
Wolford said at the time, "but I do not have a choice."
[continues 1120 words]
ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making another pitch for the state to
decriminalize possession of some marijuana.
Cuomo quietly included the proposal in a 380-page State of the State
message that he provided late Wednesday to the state Legislature.
"The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New
York state, but data consistently show that recreational users of
marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety," is on Page 191 of
The idea will again stoke a debate in Albany after the issue gained
prominence in 2012 -- when the Democratic governor first made the push to
decriminalize possession of marijuana.
[continues 341 words]
A bill that would expedite patients' access to medical marijuana has been
sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.
Cuomo will have until Nov. 11 to either sign or veto the bill, which the
state Legislature passed in late June.
The Medical Marijuana Expedited Access bill comes after a state
medical-marijuana program was passed in 2014 and is set to be up and
running by January. It allows for medical marijuana in non-smokeable forms
for patients suffering from severe illnesses, particularly children is
[continues 252 words]
ALBANY -- State regulators want to double the number of companies growing
and selling medical marijuana in New York to keep pace with patient
The state Department of Health issued a report this week with 12
recommendations to improve the state's medical marijuana program, which
launched in January and has faced criticism from patient advocates who say
there are too many barriers to getting the drug.
Among them were proposals to increase the number of marijuana companies
who can operate in New York from five to 10, which would increase the
number of allowed dispensaries in New York from 20 to 40.
[continues 694 words]
A Brooklyn Republican who has his sights set on a City Council seat
slammed the lawmaking body Sunday for bankrolling a feasibility study
on whether to open injection facilities for heroin addicts.
"It's basically a taxpayer-funded shooting gallery for heroin junkies
to allow them to legally shoot up," Bob Capano told John Catsimatidis
on his 970 AM talk show Sunday.
"Any funds spent on this issue should be focused on breaking the
addicts' dependency on drugs, not taking a step that basically
decriminalizes the use of heroin."
[continues 140 words]
The opioid epidemic ripping throughout the nation and our own backyard
will not be stopped without the multi-pronged approach that is thankfully
occurring on all levels of government.
Local, state and national leaders have stepped up to provide assistance.
Police, fire departments, ambulance crews, hospital staffs and others are
on the front lines of this fight.
Last month proved deadly in Erie County, with public officials reporting
at least 42 suspected opioid overdose deaths, half of them since Dec. 19
and six alone on Dec. 27.
[continues 451 words]