A small group of people gathered outside City Hall in Buffalo, New York, on Monday to call on state lawmakers to loosen their grip on marijuana. New York recently allowed the use of a cannabis-derived oil for certain medical purposes, but advocates say the law, passed last July, is simply not enough.
"Too many respectable law-abiding citizens who use marijuana should not be subject to go to jail because they get busted with a ten-dollar bag or a five-dollar bag,” Samuel Herbert, who was among the crowd outside Buffalo City Hall, told Buffalo’s NPR News station. “That has to stop.” The modest Buffalo rally coincided with the unofficial 4/20 holiday, an annual event celebrated by pot fans worldwide that involves smoking marijuana and publically rallying for its legalization.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Four of those states have passed laws legalizing recreational pot.
In July 2014, New York state became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, however the law only allows the drug to be consumed as an edible or oil, not smoked. Such products are available only to patients suffering from a certain set of conditions, including cancer, HIV, epilepsy and Multiple sclerosis.
The bill, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on July 7, was seen as a compromise between marijuana advocates and state legislators. "Risks to public health and safety have to be averted,” Cuomo said. “I believe this bill strikes the right balance.”
Rallies also took place on Monday outside the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge and in Asheville, North Carolina. Neither state has legalized weed for any purpose, but North Carolina did pass a law in May 2014 allowing universities to study cannabis derivatives as a treatment for epilepsy.