Assembly Members Want To Criminalize Fake Weed (Real Weed Still De-Criminalized In New York)
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.