In 1973, New York’s legislature passed the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. In 2009, with DPA's help, these harsh sentencing laws were finally reformed. See New York’s current drug laws in the Penal Code. In addition, a Rockefeller Drug Law Sentencing Reform chart created by the Center for Community Alternatives is available here.
In 1977, the New York State Legislature removed marijuana offenses from the Rockefeller Drug Laws and made marijuana offenses its own statute. The change in the law meant private possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal offense – like a speeding ticket. But if marijuana is open to public view or burning in public, it is a criminal misdemeanor.
Despite this change in the law, over the last 17 years New York state law enforcement used this marijuana possession in “public view” loophole to arrest over 600,000 people for small amounts of marijuana. You can access New York State’s marijuana laws in the Penal Code here.
Accidental drug overdose is a leading cause of death in New York City and state. In 2011, parents and advocates – including DPA and its allies – successfully pushed for a new law called “911 Good Samaritan.” The law encourages people to call 911 immediately during an overdose situation by offering a limited shield from charge and prosecution for drug and alcohol possession for a victim or witness who seek medical help during a drug or alcohol overdose. You can see the law here and here.
Naloxone (Narcan) is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose by blocking heroin (or other opioids) in the brain for 30 to 90 minutes.
In 2006, a naloxone access law took effect which made it legal in New York State for non-medical persons (laypeople) to possess and administer naloxone to another individual to prevent a fatal opioid/heroin overdose.
Learn about New York State’s overdose prevention program, SKOOP, to find out how to get trained to administer naloxone and save a life. The New York Department of Heath also has resources to learn more about naloxone.