The New York police could soon have cannabis removed from their control.
Axel Bernabe, assistant attorney for Governor Andrew Cuomo, said at the Prohibition Partners’ conference last week that he would recommend alternatives such as the use of social workers when coordinating with the state’s emerging cannabis control committee, which is about to set a framework for legalized recreational marijuana. New York State recently decided to allow recreational use and the board will decide on the details shortly.
“Law enforcement interaction with people related to drugs is a big part of the bill,” Bernabe said of the state’s new legislation, according to which recreational sales are expected in about a year. Bernabe said he felt that using social workers in other states to enforce rules for legal, licensed cannabis companies was a good idea. He also asked who would deal with cannabis-related street crimes such as the sale of unlicensed black market marijuana.
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“Who is going to interact with people on the street or with people selling illegally?” Said Bernabe. âDo we want law enforcement to do that? Is it a new form of law enforcement? “
New Yorkâs reform dilemma is unfolding in the US as local governments begin rethinking the criminal justice systems that disproportionately detain black men for possession of marijuana. These political choices could determine how much interaction minorities like blacks have with the police.
Efforts to revise law enforcement handling of cannabis also need to be reconciled with combating the illegal market, which often still includes criminal groups, and the sale of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
The use of cannabis by minors is another problem that policymakers are grappling with. Fines are expected to be used to discourage anyone under the age of 21 from using marijuana. But Bernabe asks, “Who will administer the fine?”
New York City Police Department said new marijuana laws had “profoundly changed” the way in which marijuana crimes were enforced. A spokesperson explained key legislative changes but didn’t specifically comment on the idea that other agencies could monitor cannabis. The US Drug Enforcement Agency declined to comment.
Bernabe’s colleague was Emily Galvin Almanza, founder of Partners for Justice advocacy group, which helps low-income people navigate the legal system. She said there is a conversation going on about whether to use social workers, mental health workers, or community members trained to defuse confrontations.
Bernabe said some states have turned to ex-law enforcement officials to oversee licensed cannabis operations, but there is a growing feeling that this may not be the best option among experts.
“They found it was better to rely on human services, mental health professionals, and former social workers.” âI thought that was a great idea. We take this to heart and recommend it to the Board of Management, âhe said.
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âHow do we step back and develop a regulator that is really separate from law enforcement? And what role does armed law enforcement play in the still high-risk and dangerous spaces that unfortunately still occur? Said Kelly McMillin, Chief Compliance Officer for Lowell Farms Inc. and a retired police officer during the Prohibition Partners event.
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