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Annual FolkFest marred by numerous arrests on drug charges

Oswego County authorities and the New York State Police cooperated in busting at least 14 persons for possessing and/or selling various illegal drugs at the annual FolkFest music festival held May 21 through May 24. Those arrested were mostly New York residents who ranged in age from 20 through 55. The county district attorney held a news conference to inform the public and the press regarding the several different drug charges that were filed.

The 14 arrests, however, pertain only to those arrested inside the venue. There was a rash of "arrests" made by police of people who were apparently arriving or exiting from the event. Thus, reports indicate that police arrested 21 persons on marijuana possession charges outside the venue. There were also nine arrests outside the concert for possession of an undescribed illegal substance.

Police report that the illegal substances included MDMA, hallucinogenic mushrooms, hashish and prescription medications. Taking into account that police reported seizing no weapons, there appears to be at least a question of whether the high intensity of attention devoted by Oswego county authorities to these arrests is warranted. It appears that the majority of the violations were for possession of a relatively small amount of marijuana. New York law carries a $100 fine for first time possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana.

Experts say that the fine with no penalty is essentially the decriminalization of marijuana. However, the authorities have reported the "arrest" of 21 persons for marijuana possession outside of the concert and several more inside the venue. In any event, depending on the number of prior offenses and the amount involved, some of those receiving drug charges under New York law for marijuana possession and/or for selling the drug may find it advisable to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Source: syracuse.com, "Who are the 14 arrested on drug charges inside the Sterling music festival?", Sarah Moses, June 2, 2015

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