Filler: 16 ounces of soda? 10 grams of pot? New York's feeling pretty arbitrary these days

Bottles of soda are displayed on a shelf

Bottles of soda are displayed on a shelf in New York City. (Jan. 23, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

Lane Filler

Portrait of Newsday editorial board member Lane Filler Lane Filler

Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.

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If New York is going to pass laws assigning arbitrary limits to bullets, sodas and pot, it should combine them into combo specials. If, for instance, I am carrying 10 grams of marijuana in New York City, I'll need more than 16 ounces of Mountain Dew Code Red. But if I'm high, I shouldn't be allowed seven bullets.

There have always been comically random limits. My favorite is prohibiting drinking by people younger than 21 because drinking is dangerous, but allowing enlistment in the armed forces at age 18 because, I dunno . . . "Beers and wines will break their spines but bullets never harm them"?

The drinking laws were even more senseless where I lived when I was a young drunkard. You could buy beer at 18 but had to be 21 for hard liquor. What was the rationale for that? Admittedly, I was 14 then, drinking on a fake driver's license issued to "Dr. Cray Z. Cuol," but I still pondered the idiocy of it as I downed Flying Pink Squirrels and used my best pickup line on the ladies: "So, is 'The Graduate' the hottest movie ever, or what?"

In truth, you can justify these limits. When an immature 18-year-old gets liquored up, he may present a danger to other people. An 18-year-old in the military takes most of the danger on himself. And if we didn't let 18-year-olds serve, they might change their minds by the time they're 21, and we can't have that. And hard liquor probably is more dangerous to inexperienced drinkers than beer and wine.

But none of this compares to some new and proposed laws in New York.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to combat lax gun laws. But he faced a terrible handicap: Our state's gun laws weren't lax. Assault weapons? Already illegal. Those 30-round ammunition magazines? Already illegal.

In New York the limit was 10 rounds, but Cuomo had to go after something, thus he bellowed, "No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer!" Apparently you might need seven, because that's the new limit on rounds in a magazine. No official has ever said why seven bullets is the number. There are no mass-marketed magazines that hold just seven rounds. Perhaps it's just New York's lucky number.

Now, the state may amend the law to say you can put all 10 rounds in your magazine if you're home or at a shooting range. But if you're carrying your weapon anyplace where its main purpose is to shoot people other than home invaders, please limit yourself to seven rounds.

Then there's pot. Last year, Cuomo tried to decriminalize possession of less than 25 grams. I'm all for decriminalization, but 25 grams, chosen because that's currently the line between whether possession is a violation or a misdemeanor, is really a strange amount. It's way more than you need to carry for personal consumption. As Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said, it's enough for 10 joints in each ear -- which is true, but suggests Skelos has seen some very trippy ears in his day. It's 89 percent of an ounce. It's like setting the limit on the sodas you can sell at 14.24 ounces.

Ah, soda. That's the most famous of New York's arbitrary limits. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been fighting to ban sugary sodas of more than 16 ounces. You could flip it around, allow sodas up to 25 ounces and marijuana up to 16 grams and it would make just as much (and as little) sense.

I say make the limit 30, but allow mix and match. You can have a combined total of 30 ounces of soda, grams of marijuana, and bullets in your gun at any given time. Stupid and arbitrary, you say? I thought that's what we were going for.

Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.