Back on March 31, 2021, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized recreational cannabis in the state of New York. When this happened, it made New York a state with some of the most relaxed cannabis laws in the nation. In many places where cannabis is legal, be it medical cannabis or recreational cannabis, you are still not allowed to consume it in public. That is not the case in New York.
New York is gearing up to become the Amsterdam of America. But if the state isn’t careful, it could all go up in smoke. It’s vital that the public understands what you can and can’t do when it comes to consuming cannabis in public spaces. Without some rules in place, people will do whatever they please—which isn’t good for a place like New York that’s home to over 20 million people.
The Big Apple Smells Like a Big Bag of Nugs
In the state of New York, You can fire up a joint anywhere you can smoke a cigarette. At least, you could have. On July 15, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that effectively regulates the public consumption of cannabis. The new legislation prohibits smoking at group camps, playgrounds, recreation centers, marinas, boardwalks, and on all state-owned beaches.
While the legislation targets all smoking and is primarily concerned with cigarette smoke, the policy also applies to cannabis smoke. Should someone decide to fire one up anyhow and get caught, they face a civil fine of $50. The Catskills, Adirondacks, adjoining parks, sidewalks, parking lots, and areas not used for park purposes are exempt, according to media sources. Gov. Hochul stated:
“Smoking is a dangerous habit that affects not only the smoker but everyone around them, including families and children enjoying our state’s great public places. I’m proud to sign this legislation that will protect New Yorker’s health and help reduce litter in public parks and beaches across the state.”
This is great news for New Yorkers who took issue with the increasingly smelly air around them. In New York City specifically, residents filed endless odor complaints regarding the cannabis stench. New York Mayor Eric Adams even said, “The only thing I smell right now is pot, it’s like everybody’s smoking a joint right now.”
Jeffrey Dinowitz, a member of the New York State Assembly, stated, “New Yorkers head to our parks for fresh air and to foster a healthy lifestyle. Smoking is the opposite of that. I am very pleased that Governor Hochul has signed into law this important statewide ban on smoking in parks and thank you to my colleagues for their vital support on this bill over the years.”
Smoking Cannabis in Public Isn’t Harmless
People who smoke cannabis openly on crowded sidewalks, beaches, and other public places—especially those frequented by children—are just as inconsiderate as those who smoke cigarettes, vape, or belligerently consume alcohol. People might think that open cannabis consumption is harmless, but there are potential dangers.
Cannabis is a plant rich in terpenes, aromatic compounds that contribute to its smell, aroma, and health benefits. Terpenes are abundant in nature and found in all sorts of plants and foods. Many people have allergies that can be triggered by terpenes—meaning that the simple act of smoking a joint could cause an allergic reaction in someone nearby.
There is also the concern of secondhand smoke. While it’s been proven that secondhand tobacco smoke is harmful, there’s less known about secondhand cannabis smoke. However, a recent study—though rife with discrepancies—suggested that secondhand cannabis smoke can be dangerous. State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said, “New York’s public parks are family friendly venues. No one, especially children, should be subjected to secondhand smoke while playing on a playground or enjoying the day at a public beach or campsite.”
New York didn’t totally do away with public cannabis consumption, something it’s quickly become known for. Authorities simply attached some rules and regulations to the policy. Otherwise, people will just simply abuse the privilege. If you do choose to consume openly in New York, discretion is key. Be considerate of others and set a good example for the rest.
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