CATSKILL — The Greene County Sheriff’s Office welcomed its newest member this week: a Belgian Malinois puppy named Bolt.
Named after the late Sgt. Mike Bolz, Bolt was donated to the sheriff’s office by a local breeder and will be assessed for his trainability at 18 months, Sheriff Peter Kusminsky said.
Bolt was accepted in anticipation of having to retire another K9 with the department named Havoc, Kusminsky said.
Havoc is among hundreds of K9s throughout the state facing retirement if Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed legalization of marijuana is passed.
In his budget proposal last month, Cuomo called for the legalization of adult use cannabis.
“I believe it is best done in the budget,” Cuomo said. “I said that last year. I believe the budget is the opportunity, frankly, to make some tough decisions and work through tough issues that without the budget, can often languish, and I suggest that we get it done in the budget.”
The budget proposal includes taxation at three levels for cannabis: the cultivation would be taxed at $1 per dry weight gram of cannabis flower, $0.25 per dry weight gram of cannabis trim, and $0.14 per gram of wet cannabis.
There are two taxes: The sale to a dispensary would be taxed at 20% and the same sale to a dispensary would be taxed at 2% and be collected on account of the county or a city with a population of a million or more, according governor.ny.gov.
The governor also proposed the establishment of the Office of Cannabis to handle all licensing, enforcement and economic development.
“The OCM will administer all licensing, production and distribution of cannabis productions in the adult-use, industrial and medical cannabis markets,” according to governor.ny.gov.
Because Havoc was trained to find marijuana, passage of the law would force Havoc and more than 200 K9s with state police into retirement, Kusminsky said.
Legislators Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, and Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, asked Kusminsky if the department will be able to use canines in the future.
The dogs can be trained to find narcotics and track missing persons or suspects, Kusminsky said. The marijuana training would be left out.
The K9s give the same signal regardless of what drug they hit on, he said.
There is more to be worked out with the legislation, Kusminsky said, such as at what level a person is “intoxicated” or “impaired” while driving and how that will be tested. There is no breath test for marijuana.
Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said the feeling at a recent New York State Association of Counties conference is that the law will pass this time around.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states for adults over the age of 21 and legal for medical use in 33 states.
Neighboring states where marijuana is legal include Massachusetts and Vermont.
In Massachusetts, it is legal to carry up to 1 ounce and have up to 10 ounces in your home. You can grow up to six plants in your home and up to 12 plants for two or more adults. You cannot have an open container of marijuana while driving or drive under the influence of marijuana, according to mass.gov.
In Vermont, adults may possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis or two mature (plus four immature) plants, according to statelaws.findlaw.com.
New York’s proposed law would allow adults to carry up to 1 ounce of cannabis. Possessing more than one ounce would be considered first-degree unlawful possession of cannabis, a violation, according to the new law.
Second-degree criminal possession of cannabis would start at two ounces and be considered a class A misdemeanor, according to the law.
First-degree criminal possession of cannabis would start at 64 ounces, or four pounds, of cannabis and be considered a class E felony, according to the law. At the present time, this amount is considered a class D felony.
The law also includes sections on drugged driving.
“Every person operating a motor vehicle which has been involved in an accident or which is operated in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall, at the request of a police offcer, submit to a breath test and/or oral/bodily fluid to be administered by the police officer, and/or to an evaluation by a drug recognition by expert or advance roadside impairment detection enforcement certified officer,” according to the law. “If such test indicates that such operator has consumed alcohol or drugs, the police officer may request such operator to submit to a chemical test or an evaluation conducted by a drug recognition expert or advance roadside impairment detection enforcement certified officer.”
Officers will also take into account the circumstances surrounding the incident, such as any visible or behavioral indication of alcohol and/or drugs or drug consumption by the operation, the presence of an open container or the odor of cannabis.
Counties or cities with populations greater than 100,000 can adopt a local law to prohibit the establishment of one or more types of licenses, according to the law. Licenses include adult-use cultivator, processor, cooperative, retail dispensary and on-site consumption.