What to Know About Marijuana Drug Charges in Rochester NY

What to Know About Marijuana Drug Charges in Rochester NY

While a new cannabis law is being written, you’ll want to stay up to date on marijuana drug charges in Rochester NY. Here’s one example of why: even as the state hammers out the details of the new cannabis law, some store owners thought they found a loophole that enabled them to sell marijuana to customers. But the New York Cannabis Board says the scheme is illegal.

Earlier, a Henrietta CBD dealer began selling $65 t-shirts and including three ounces of marijuana as a “gift.” The store claimed these transactions were legal since it’s legal to gift up to three ounces of marijuana to persons over 21. But the loophole was short-lived. “There is no gray market in New York state,” declared NYCB Chair Tremaine Wright. “This conduct is not legal and must stop. Individuals who do not cease run the risk of severe financial penalties.” Marijuana sales at pop-up stores and carnivals or fairs are likewise illegal.

Safety concerns prompt many officials to clamp down on marijuana gifting and other questionable activities. In 2019, black market THC vape cartridges sent over 2,000 people to area hospitals. Sixty-eight of them died.

Post-Possession Issues

Many people assumed that marijuana legalization automatically meant marijuana availability. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Under pressure from law enforcement groups that opposed the law, rule-makers are in no hurry to implement the legislature’s directive. There are some misunderstandings about some other aspects of the marijuana law as well.

Possession of three ounces or less is the only component of this law that has no grey area. Typically, an ounce of marijuana produces about forty joints. If a person has more than three ounces of marijuana, or one hundred twenty joints, more than likely, that marijuana is not exclusively for personal use.

The law now prohibits police officers from arresting individuals on minor possession charges. However, New York law still allows police officers to detain such individuals and interrogate them about the source of the marijuana. If the defendant is uncooperative, police officers often file discretionary charges, such as disorderly conduct. According to the New York Penal Law, it is a violation to “cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly create a risk thereof” by:

  • Making an “unreasonable noise,”
  • Using obscene language,
  • Making an obscene gesture,
  • Disrupting traffic, which could mean walking too slowly across the street, or
  • Creating “a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.”

Many of us do at least one of these things pretty much every day. So, although it’s technically legal to possess pot, openly possessing it in a public place and in the presence of a law enforcement officer is usually a bad idea. Disorderly conduct is a traffic ticket. However, at a minimum, defendants must still make bail, hire a Rochester criminal defense lawyer, and go through the system.

Marijuana Usage Issues

Lots of people have questions about smoking pot in vehicles. It’s perfectly legal for passengers to use marijuana inside moving cars, at least in most cases. Using marijuana could mean smoking it or consuming marijuana edibles. However, police officers can still give these individuals a hard time, as outlined above.

Technically, it’s also legal to operate a motor vehicle while using marijuana. However, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Generally, people who use marijuana, even if they only take one hit, are under the influence of this drug. When people drink alcohol, the impairing effects accumulate over time. But marijuana works the opposite way. The high hits almost immediately and fades over time.

On a related note, the marijuana law effectively ends the age-old “I smelled marijuana” excuse, which has justified countless police stops over the years. The odor of marijuana no longer constitutes probable cause since use is mostly legal.

Other prohibited uses include transporting marijuana across state lines and smoking marijuana inside public buildings. Employers, landlords, and other such individuals may also prohibit marijuana use.

Worried about Marijuana Drug Charges in Rochester NY? Contact an Experienced Attorney

Marijuana is legal in New York, but only under certain circumstances. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.


About New Year’s Eve and Getting a Rochester DWI Attorney

About New Year’s Eve and Getting a Rochester DWI Attorney

If you’re planning to celebrate the New Year but concerned about legal consequences of impaired decision-making, you’ll want to keep in mind an experienced Rochester DWI attorney. The 2021 holiday season promises to be the most normal one we’ve had in a while, so it’s understandable to want to let loose. Hopefully, that doesn’t include drinking and driving under the influence, but we all know how alcohol inhibits our better judgment.

Even before the pandemic hit, the statistics regarding New Year’s Eve alcohol consumption were sobering (pardon the pun):

  • 50% of people consumed alcohol during family holiday parties, primarily to reduce the stress and anxiety such gatherings often entail,
  • 24% experienced blackouts,
  • 16% said alcohol prompted them to say or do things they regret (the specifics should not be printed on a family-friendly website), and
  • 13% picked up a DWI charge.

Frequently, New Year’s Eve DWIs also have some unique legal issues. These issues, along with the inherent weaknesses in many of these cases, often mean that a Rochester DWI attorney can successfully resolve even the scariest and most complex matters.

Common Defenses a Rochester DWI Attorney May Use

Frequently, intoxication, or the lack thereof, is the only material issue in a DWI case. Going by the book, intoxication is relatively easy to prove in New York. The Empire State has a per se DWI law. But the evidence available is not always solid.

Breathalyzers are sophisticated devices, but they are not flawless. Temperature sensitivity is often an issue during the winter. Some police departments only calibrate their Breathalyzers once every sixty days. There’s a big difference between the weather in October and December in upstate New York. Individual temperature sometimes comes into play as well. A three-degree fever can drive a Breathalyzer result several points higher.

If the state must rely on circumstantial evidence from the Field Sobriety Tests, which it must in about a fifth of cases, the evidence issues are even more acute. The notorious walking-a-straight-line test is a good example. It’s challenging to walk a line heel to toe as distractions abound, such as strobe lights flashing in the background. Additionally, it is almost impossible to walk an imaginary line heel to toe, whether the subject is drunk or sober.

DWI Roadblocks

Sobriety checkpoints are pretty standard in Monroe County around holidays associated with drinking and driving, such as New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Officers do not need reasonable suspicion to detain motorists if the DWI roadblock meets specific legal requirements, such as:

  • A supervisor-level decision to set up a roadblock,
  • A safe location, like a non-intersection on a surface street,
  • Pre-checkpoint publicity that creates general awareness about the roadblock,
  • Adequate signage preceding the checkpoint, and
  • A neutral detention formula, such as every third or fourth vehicle.

Motorists have rights at checkpoints as well. They need not answer questions or even roll down their windows. Police officers usually shadow such motorists for at least several blocks, so be advised.

Holiday STEP Campaigns

Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs, which usually have catchy marketing names like “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” are also common during the holidays. Usually, government grants pay for officer overtime and other STEP-related expenses. Since many officers feel real or imaginary pressure to make as many arrests as possible to justify the funding, some officers occasionally take shortcuts.

Common shortcuts include a lack of reasonable suspicion for the stop and a lack of probable cause for the arrest. Reasonable suspicion is an evidence-based hunch of criminal activity. A hunch alone, such as a driver who didn’t look right or just left a bar, does not hold up in court.

The aforementioned field sobriety tests usually serve as probable cause. During STEP campaigns, officers sometimes skip straight to the arrest without using the FSTs. Marijuana is legal in New York, but only under certain circumstances.

Get a Rochester DWI Attorney on Your Side

For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester DWI attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.