Cuomo Endorses Bill to Reduce Marijuana Arrests
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a legislative proposal that would make marijuana possession in public a violation punishable by a fine, and enforced via a summons in lieu of arrest. That's the current law in New York for personal possession of small amounts of marijuana (up to an ounce) not in public view.
Smoking marijuana in public would remain a misdemeanor. But Cuomo endorsed the police department's use of stop and frisk.
“Stop-and-frisk is a well-accepted police strategy all across the country,” the governor said in announcing his legislative proposal yesterday.
Mayor Bloomberg is supporting Cuomo's bill. Why go halfway? Neither public nor private possession of marijuana should be a violation or a crime. [More...]
According to Bloomberg:
The governor’s proposal today is consistent with the commissioner’s directive and strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety, including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana,” Bloomberg said.
Some argue the change in law will not eliminate the racially disparate effect of marijuana penalties:
If the bill passes, Harry Levine, a Queens College sociologist, offered a warning: There may be fewer marijuana arrests, but he says we'll probably see tens of thousands more summonses issued for marijuana possession in the same precincts where people were previously getting arrested.
“So it will be young blacks and Latinos ― mostly men ― who are being given the summonses, just as it is mostly ― 87 percent ― of those who are being arrested now,” he predicted.
Also, if those summoned don't show up to pay the fine, they can still be arrested.
Is the bill an improvement over the current law? Yes. Is it enough? No.
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