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A new New York State bill would make it illegal to smoke pot in public

Anywhere you can smoke a cigarette, you can smoke a joint…but not for long if the bill goes through.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

It could be illegal to smoke marijuana in public if some New York politicians have their way.

After finally legalizing the sale and possession of recreational cannabis in 2021 and rolling out retail licenses across the state, two New York politicians are hoping to make the smoke dissipate.

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Republican Assemblyman Michael Novakhov, who represents Brooklyn, and co-sponsor Mario R. Mattera, a Republican state senator representing the North Shore of Long Island, are sponsors of a new bill that would ban the public use of cannabis unless a local government opts in, allowing it, as first reported by PIX 11.

That means you could not smoke a joint out and about in New York State, unless the specific town or city you’re in has allowed it and has its own legislation saying as much. Can you imagine the hassle of figuring that out before you light up?

Right now, anywhere you can smoke a cigarette, you can smoke a joint. (You can’t smoke anything in public parks, by the way.)

If you are caught under this new law, you would be fined $125.

According to the bill, “in public” means streets, sidewalks, parks and the outdoor patios of restaurants and bars. 

“Smoking cannabis in public places can be disruptive and harmful to non-smokers. Fines for smoking tobacco in public places have been effective in reducing public smoking rates and fines for smoking cannabis in public places can help enforce public health and safety regulations while reducing the burden on law enforcement agencies,” the bill reads.

Assemblyman Novakhov, who says he supports the legalization of cannabis, told PIX 11 that the smell of pot smoke is the no. 2 complaint to his office. 

Not only would his law supposedly cut these complaints down but Novahov says it would help support new cannabis cafe licenses “that have almost been completely left out of the equation,” according to PIX 11.

Right now, the bill is in Senate Rules Committee. Once it is placed on the floor calendar, the Senate and the Assembly will vote to pass it. If it does pass, it goes to Governor Kathy Hochul to sign and make it official.

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