Local police chiefs weigh in on Buffalo mayor’s order to stop marijuana enforcement

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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown made an order to his city’s police department on Friday.

“Today, I am directing the Buffalo Police Commissioner to stop enforcing low-level marijuana offenses,” Brown said in his State of the City address on Friday. “Low-level marijuana offenses for too long have derailed people’s’ lives.”

The call came when New York is looking to legalize marijuana. In response, Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said 200 out of 10,000 arrests are purely low-level marijuana charges. Offenders usually have other charges against them.

In the Southern Tier, a few local police chiefs weighed in on Brown’s demand and how the order from a municipal leader could impact the work of law enforcement.

“We don’t choose the laws, we enforce the laws and it’s up to the state to change the laws,” Chief Peter Michalko of the West Elmira Police Department, said. “If the state changes the law then absolutely we would follow them”

Michalko and Canisteo Police Chief Kyle Amidon explained that a low-level marijuana charge would be someone possessing marijuana, a violation. An example would be someone caught with a rolled-up marijuana cigarette. Michalko said the violation would be equivalent to a parking ticket and that violations are below misdemeanors.

Amdion said, “Having someone come forward and advising us would be, definitely, a wrench thrown at us as far what we should and shouldn’t do.”

Both said until marijuana is legalized, they will continue enforcing existing laws.

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