Will Buffalo Follow NYC Marijuana Path?

Buffalo Police will still enforce state law on marijuana

Mike Baggerman
June 21, 2018 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Beginning September 1, law enforcement in New York City will no longer arrest individuals who smoke in public places and, instead, issue a ticket, something they believe will eliminate at least 10,000 arrests per year.

Could we see something similar in Buffalo?

“I don’t think so at this point in time,” Buffalo Common Councilman David Franczyk said. “I don’t know if I would recommend more intoxication on city streets than we may have. You’re encouraging a lowering of the bar of civility in public. We don’t encourage public drunkenness and I’ve got to say, if you’re toking something on the sidewalk here, it’s going to affect you in some way.”

Franczyk doesn’t believe the Common Council will follow suit with New York City.

“We’re dealing with the issues of crime,” he said. “The drive-by shootings, dealing with drugs and gangs, does marijuana have a role in that?”

Franczyk doesn’t think it will help civility in New York City and said that if it became legal in New York City, people would still not be able to smoke publicly, similar to how it’s illegal to drink alcohol in a public area.

Buffalo Police will still enforce existing state marijuana laws according to Captain Jeff Rinaldo.

“Very low-level possession of marijuana is a violation,” Rinaldo said. “Say a bag of marijuana in your pocket. However, smoking in public view is still a crime. I know there’s conversations occurring where there’s talk not only locally but across the state in terms of legalizing it. It’s one of those things where we have to see where it heads and what ultimately the city government and state government decide to do on this topic.”

A $100 fine will be issued for possession of up to 25 grams but no jail time. Rinaldo estimated that of the tens of thousands of arrests, there’s less than 300 just for possession of marijuana.

“A lot of that is complaint based,” he said. “That’s the store owner calling and saying ‘every day this guy is outside, smoking marijuana in front of my and it’s hurting my business’ or the neighbor calling and saying ‘There’s four people next to my house smoking marijuana. I want something done’.”

A study commissioned by the state recommended Monday that New York allow adults to legally consume marijuana.

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