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With America’s Shifting Views of Marijuana, Know the Laws Near You

Canada%27s+legalization+of+marijuana+has+gained+praise%2C+but+New+York+State+and+Pace%27s+laws%2Frules+are+drastically+different+from+our+friends+up+North.+
Canada's legalization of marijuana has gained praise, but New York State and Pace's laws/rules are drastically different from our friends up North.

Canada's legalization of marijuana has gained praise, but New York State and Pace's laws/rules are drastically different from our friends up North.

Wesley Gibbs

Wesley Gibbs

Canada's legalization of marijuana has gained praise, but New York State and Pace's laws/rules are drastically different from our friends up North.

Christina Bubba, Feature Editor

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The debate and negotiation over marijuana legalization in the U.S. had a monumental moment when California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. 22 years later, 25 states allow medical marijuana usage, including New York, but recreational use has become hot-button issue nationally and globally. The global push for marijuana legalization had a major win a few weeks ago when recreational use was legalized throughout Canada.

Since there are many variations of laws surrounding marijuana in the Western Hemisphere, it is important for Pace students to know the laws where they live. Despite recent pushes by activists to legalize marijuana in New York State, it is still illegal.

New York’s laws are mimicked in the Pace “Alcohol and Other Drug Policy.” In New York State, charges for Criminal Possession of Marijuana range from class C, D, and E felonies. If charged with unlawful possession of marijuana in NY State, it is punishable by a fine of less than $100 and can classify as either a class A or B misdemeanor. However, it is legal for medical usage if the person is properly licensed.

“I have personally witnessed the medical properties of marijuana with my neighbor,” junior David Minyety said. “Due to his M.S. he needed to consume marijuana daily and I could see the amount of pain it alleviated from him.”

On the Pace campus, according to the Student Handbook, “It is a crime under federal law to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance unless the possession is otherwise permitted by law…” According to this statement, if a student has a medical license, they are permitted to possess marijuana on campus. However, if a student is not permitted, the consequences are sometimes worse than if caught by someone in the police force. For a first time offense, the penalty is at least a $1,000 fine, up to one-year imprisonment, or both. After the first offense, the fine steadily rises along with the imprisonment years.

Even if Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state changes its tone on marijuana legalization, there will likely remain strict strict policies to abide by in the state. In places where marijuana is legal, there are still strict rules that the citizens have to follow. For instance, the Cannabis Act in Canada aims to create “a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.” Their three main goals are to keep marijuana away from the youth, keep the profits away from criminals, and to protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.

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