NORB: Don’t Hog that Joint my Friend, Pass it Over to Me

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Norbert Rug is a local writer from Lockport, NY

By: Norbert Rug

As an ex-smoker, I can smell the odor of cigarette smoke on smokers and can tell if the person driving ahead of me is smoking. I can also smell if someone is smoking a cigar from two houses away. Just like cigarette smokers, marijuana smokers can get used to the smell and won’t notice how repugnant it can be to people who don’t partake in smoking “weed”. Different from cigarette smokers, though, pot smokers have not acquired the manners about bothering the people around them.

The state missed an opportunity to fix this problem five years ago when a bill that would have made public display of marijuana an offense similar to a traffic violation, rather than a crime, died in the Legislature.

Many New Yorkers who don’t smoke marijuana don’t want to live with the fumes. In New York after all, you can’t legally smoke a cigarette in a bar, a restaurant, a movie theater, a subway train or platform, in a public park or even in your own car if there is a child in it. People don’t want to smell the scent of marijuana smoke either.

In my opinion, making the threat of a criminal action, which can damage someone’s life just for legally smoking bud, is a dreadful replacement for teaching people manners. Nonsmokers make up the majority of voters, and I think that politicians must listen to them. If the 4:20 fans want to keep their drug of choice legal, and expand that legality to more locations, then they need to adopt more considerate methods of getting their high like gummies and brownies in public or at least burning a blunt in their own home with the windows closed keeping in mind that the smoke has to go somewhere and that their neighbors might not enjoy the aroma.

New York State lawmakers have submitted bills that are aimed at providing a way that could allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcoholic beverages. New York could be one of the next states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The plans (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) would make having up to two ounces of ganja legal for adults 18 and older. It would also create a fully legal Mary Jane market that would give adults 21 and older the ability to buy wacky tobaccy products from retail dispensaries that are state licensed.

The proposal reads, “The intent of this act is to regulate, control, and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, prevent access to marijuana by those under the age of eighteen years, help reduce the illegal drug market and lower violent crime, reduce the racially disparate impact of existing marijuana laws, allow industrial hemp to be farmed in New York state, and create new industries and increase employment.”

I understand that eight states, including nearby Massachusetts, have made reefer legal. Some supporters think the changing pot laws in New England could be enough to encourage state lawmakers to view this question a bit more honestly than they previously have in the past.

Even though New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been for marijuana reform, I see some indications to suggest that his point of view could be changing. In addition to backing expansions to New York’s extremely restrictive medical marijuana program, Cuomo recently announced his plans to simplify the state’s decriminalization law.

“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,” Cuomo said.

A bill called “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” has been delivered to committees in each of the houses. We probably will know more about its chances of passing in the next few months. To date, Cuomo’s office has not stated if the governor would endorse the bill if he were to receive it later this year.

If the marijuana legalization movement faces any real resistance, it’s likely to come from nonsmoking residents of the state rather than the usual anti-drug factions. I really don’t care what people do in their private homes, but when it endangers my safety or my health or the health of others, “Houston, we have a problem.”

This seventy year old man thinks the recreational use of marijuana should be legalized falling under all the same laws that regulate the use of alcohol. That the use of marijuana on the job should be grounds for termination just like alcohol use. That driving under the influence of marijuana should result in the loss of your driver’s license and any other regulations that are deemed applicable. I know this won’t prevent teens from smoking weed but the current drug or alcohol laws don’t prevent underage use either.

The tax money could be used for infrastructure repairs, feeding the homeless or education. Weed could even help me with my arthritis and chronic peripheral neuropathy pain.

Norb is a writer from Lockport that grew up in the sixties, as such he feels he has a unique perspective on the use of marijuana.







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