Police officers in New York this week received a notice instructing them not to stop or approach people who are smoking marijuana in public.
The memo was sent two days after Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill to legalize recreational use for residents 21 and older.
Smoking weed in public places, including sidewalks and front porches, “is not a basis for an approach, stop, summons, arrest, or search,” reads the memo.
The smell of marijuana “no longer establishes probable cause of a crime to search a vehicle,” though police may search a vehicle if the driver appears “high” and if there are signs of drug use or other criminal activities.
Even in such a case, officers cannot search the vehicle’s trunk without verbal consent or without identifying a separate probable cause.
Cops have also been instructed not to stop parolees using or carrying legal amounts of marijuana unless otherwise specified by their parole agreement.
In addition to recreational use, New York’s newest law allows residents to possess up to three ounces of weed and grow up to three marijuana plants at home. The law clears the criminal records of individuals previously convicted of crimes now considered legal and establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the sale and distribution of marijuana – both for recreational and medical use.
New York is the 15th state to approve recreational marijuana. According to Governor Cuomo, the change is expected to create 60,000 jobs and bring in $350 million in tax revenue per year.
According to polls, roughly 67% of Americans support full legalization.