GOP Opposition Snuffs Out NY Pot Proposal

Cuomo plan fails despite backing of Bloomberg, NYPD

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2012 11:29 PM CDT | Updated Jun 20, 2012 4:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to reduce "stop and frisk" arrests by downgrading public possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation has gone up in smoke—at least for now. Cuomo has declared the plan, which was supported by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, dead because of stiff opposition from Republican state lawmakers, and the looming end of the legislative session, reports the New York Times. "Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear, and it only be a violation, I think that’s wrong," groused Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The state decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 1977, but the steep rise in police stop and frisk busts in New York City over the last few years has led to large numbers of people being arrested because the searches put their pot on public view—which then makes possession a crime. "It's disappointing that the legislature can't put politics aside when justice is on the line," complained the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Arresting and jailing tens of thousands of people each year for marijuana possession does not make New York safer. It drives young New Yorkers into the criminal justice system." Unless Cuomo calls a special session, the plan will now be on hold until the next legislative session begins in January.

A violation if it's in your pocket, a crime if it's in public view.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
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It seemed like if this many powerful people said they wanted X, which wasn’t that big a deal, it should be possible to do it. - Harry Levine, a sociologist
who has studied New York's
marijuana arrest practices

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