ALBANY – From his longtime residence on the eastern side of Lake Ontario, H. Douglas Barclay has encountered much in his decades as state and national Republican power broker, friend of the Bush family, former ambassador to El Salvador and founder of an influential law firm with offices scattered across New York and elsewhere.
Yet the 87-year-old former state senator still recalls vividly the summer day in 1977 when he helped drive through the GOP-led Senate what would be New York’s first stab at partially decriminalizing marijuana laws.
It was a historic and bumpy path that had close connections to the marijuana decriminalization bill that passed the State Legislature six weeks ago.
Barclay might have seemed an odd choice to lead a bid to relax marijuana laws; just four years earlier, he had teamed with then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to enact some of the nation’s toughest – critics say harshest – anti-drug laws.
But that was then. On June 28, 1977, Barclay was hunting…