Mayor Michael Bloomberg made waves yesterday by lending his support to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The news comes as a bit of a surprise, considering New York City pot busts have soared under the mayor, with some 50,000 arrests last year for low-level pot possession, notes Gothamist. The busts have resulted in part from the police department's controversial "stop and frisk" policy, which many New Yorkers decry as racist because blacks and Latinos are often targeted. Cuomo's proposal, Bloomberg said, "strikes the right balance" because it allows the NYPD to continue "making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana."
Possession of small amounts of pot is currently only a crime if it's in public view or being smoked in public, notes the New York Times. But when cops tell a "stop and frisk" target to empty their pockets, the pot is placed in public view by police order—something Cuomo calls an "aggravated complication" of the city's crime strategy. City prosecutors and the NYPD are also on board, and the support will carry major weight in the GOP-dominated state Senate. Democrat Cuomo has argued that the pot busts are a waste of resources.