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Grisanti seeks to reduce public marijuana penalty

ALBANY — Legislation proposed by a freshman senator from Buffalo would make smoking marijuana in public a violation instead of the more serious criminal misdemeanor charge.

“The law’s outdated,” State Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican, said of a 1977 law that decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession but that critics say has been misinterpreted by some police agencies over the years.

Grisanti said his bill, which has a sponsor in the Assembly, would save time and money for police and prosecutors.

The 1977 law made possession of less than seven-eighths of an ounce of marijuana a violation instead of a criminal offense unless the drug was in “public view.”