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Advocates Say GOP Using Marijuana Odor as Excuse to Preach Prohibition

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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In the last couple of years, we have seen the District of Columbia and 24 other states legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Fourteen other states have also approved the drug for medical use. Of the total number of states that have legalized recreational use, New York is the only state that doesn’t penalize the drug’s use in public.

Now, some GOP legislators claim that the public consumption of cannabis is a nuisance to individuals who don’t like the smell. Advocates of cannabis legalization argue that legislators are overstating the scale of the issue and using the smell as a cover for their actual problem, which is that marijuana shouldn’t be legal.

Paul Armentano, National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws deputy director, states that legislators who have an issue with public consumption of cannabis are those opposing a change in cannabis policies and seeking excuses to support their positions.

This doesn’t mean that individuals in different cities and states haven’t complained about or mentioned issues with cannabis smell. However, most of the attention on the matter seems to be directed at New York. A quick search of “smell,” “cannabis” and “public” on Google shows that most stories focus on New York City, often referred to as the media capital of the world.

For residents of New York, the smell is the least of their worries when it comes to marijuana. This is mainly because the implementation of its recreational use program has been regarded a disaster, with Governor Kathy Hochul herself referring to it as such.

GOP state assemblyman Michael Novakhov represents some parts of Brooklyn. He stated that while he had nothing against individuals consuming cannabis, his constituents didn’t want their kids exposed to the drug. In 2023, Novakhov proposed a measure that would have banned the public use of marijuana unless approved by local governments. However, this measure and a senate version of it didn’t get past the committee stage.

Many apartments in New York do not allow smoking; most do not have patios or balconies either. This makes it hard for people to consume the drug in their homes. With this in mind, Novakhov highlighted the need for marijuana lounges to be established, as they have been in other states.

He gave the example of people drinking alcohol in bars and added that he’d like to see those who use marijuana in public be illegally fined but not arrested. Thus far, New York has yet to issue any licenses on on-site consumption because officials haven’t created regulations for these businesses.

Cannabis entities such as Tilray Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) (TSX: TLRY) hope that solutions are found that address the interests of those who would like to consume marijuana products in designated public spaces or in their homes while also respecting the wishes of those who aren’t interested in the substance.

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