Taking a step in the right direction, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will ask legislators to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view.
According to the New York Times, on Monday Cuomo will ask for a change in a New York State law that would drastically reduce the number of people who could be arrested for marijuana possession as a result of police stops.
The Governor’s new initiative also plans to curb and reduce the numbers of NYPD’s controversial “Stop & Frisk” policy.
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.
In 2011, the NYPD made 50,684 arrests for possession of a small amount of marijuana, more than for any other offense, according to an analysis of state data by Harry G. Levine, a sociologist at Queens College.
Levine also found that from 2002 to 2011, New York City recorded 400,000 low-level marijuana arrests, which represented more arrests than under Mr. Bloomberg’s three predecessors put together, a period of 24 years.
Most of those arrested have been young black and Hispanic men, and most had no prior criminal convictions.
It was found that the arrests continued and that one in seven arrests made in the city was for low-level marijuana possession.
Cuomo plans to announce his support for the change at a news conference at the Capitol and according to an email sent from his office:
“This proposal will bring long overdue consistency and fairness to New York State’s Penal Law and save thousands of New Yorkers, particularly minority youth, from the unnecessary and life-altering trauma of a criminal arrest and, in some cases, prosecution.”
More than a dozen states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, including Connecticut last year and California the year before. In New York, the Legislature in 1977 reduced the penalty for possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana to a violation, which carries a maximum fine of $100 for first-time offenders.
It’s been 35 years since NYC’s had a marijuana policy and we think it’s time for a change, hopefully legislators listen to Cuomo’s proposal.