When I first read the proposed reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, A.06085, I was glad to see that it contained a provision that would add Penal Law § 220.48, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance to a Child. Based on the title of the crime, I thought it would fill in a glaring hole in Article 220. When an adult sells drugs to a child, there are special and unique public policy interests that come into play, including the protection of children from predators. Criminal Sale In or Near School Grounds (Penal Law § 220.44), while laudably aimed at protecting children, only applies to sales that occur on school grounds or within 1,000 feet of such facilities.
Despite the optimistic nature of its title, a close examination of the proposed legislation reveals that it will not serve much of a purpose. A person would be guilty of this crime when:
The controlled substances referenced include narcotic preparations (controlled substances in Schedules III(d) or III(e), such as nalorphine or codeine, the latter in excess of a certain amount), methadone, ketamine, and GHB (the so-called "date rape drug"). Glaringly omitted from this list are narcotic drugs under Schedule I or II, such as heroin and cocaine.
The bill summary touts this provision as "elevat[ing] penalties" for the sale of drugs to children. It is one of the few provisions of Article 220 that would still carry mandatory prison time. However, it is ultimately a fairly ineffective provision. By exempting narcotic drugs and marijuana, it removes any real teeth from the crime. Heroin, cocaine, and crack are the most prevalent and dangerous street drugs. I predict that very few persons will be prosecuted under the new Penal Law § 220.48. (LC)