Cuomo Joins Effort to End Minor Marijuana Arrests


Gov. Cuomo will support efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in open view, the Bed-Stuy Patch reports. Possessing 25 grams or less “for personal use” in open view would become a violation, with a $100 fine, instead of a misdemeanor; mere possession of that much has been a violation since the 1970s, unless it’s out in the open. Often, such arrests are made when someone who has been stopped by police is ordered to empty his or her pockets.

The change comes after calls from lawmakers from minority communities to diminish the impact of the mayor’s stop-and-frisk policy. (Last year, Brooklyn assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, currently running for Congress, introduced a similar bill; the difference is his would also decriminalize smoking marijuana.) “The lawmakers argue that young men found with small amounts of marijuana are being needlessly funneled into the criminal justice system and have difficulty finding jobs as a result,” the Times reports.

In September, Ray Kelly directed his officers to stop arresting New Yorkers for having marijuana in open view during stop and frisks. But the practice continues, Jeffries alleged. (“An advocacy group critical of the Police Department’s marijuana arrest policies found that only a modest decline in the arrests followed Mr. Kelly’s memorandum,” the Times notes.) Despite Kelly’s interdiction, marijuana busts in NYC were up in 2011 from the year before. More than 50,000 people were arrested—more than all of those busted from 1978 to 1996 COMBINED.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart


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