New York: Bloomberg endorses Cuomo plan to decriminalize pot in "public view"

Posted on June 5th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

New York cannabisNew York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo held an Albany press conference June 4 to announce that he will ask state lawmakers to make possession of cannabis "in public view" a violation—essentially, the same as simple possession of under an ounce in the Empire State. Having the herb "in public view" is currently a misdemeanor, which is exploited by New York City police to rack up arrests in so-called "stop-and-frisks" by spooking citizens into displaying their stash—an illegal practice that has been the focus of a recent controversy. Cuomo's proposal immediately won the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his top prosecutors and—amazingly—the New York Police Department.

Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network praised Cuomo's proposal as "a step in the right direction" in curbing what he described as racial profiling by the NYPD. Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat who has pushed legislation to end low-level pot arrests, said: "It cannot be criminal behavior for one group of people and socially acceptable behavior for another group of people, where the dividing line is race." The stop-and-frisks have disproportionately targeted Blacks and Latinos.

Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), joined Cuomo at his news conference, indicating that the Democrat-controlled Assembly would back the measure. The New York Times also quickly endorsed the proposal in an editorial.

Media coverage of this positive development has been garbled, with many news sources saying Cuomo had issued a call to "decriminalize small quantities of marijuana." Personal quantities of cannabis were decriminalized in New York in 1977, with under an ounce (technically, 25 grams) punishable only by a $100 fine. What is at issue now is small quantities "in public view," currently punishable by a $500 fine and up to three months in jail. Getting it right were the New York Times and the Village Voice. Getting it wrong were Fox News and (embarrassingly!) the Daily News.

Graphic from The Weed Blog



"Ten joints behind each ear"

Bill Weinberg's picture

This has got to be an Internet meme if it isn't one already. New York state senate majority leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) responded to Cuomo's plan thusly: "Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it only be a violation, I think that's wrong."

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto criticized Skelos' statement. "Carrying ten joints in each ear would require some set of ears!" he quipped. "We look forward to working these issues through with the Senate in order to end an injustice that has been allowed to go on for too long." (Daily News, June 6)

Comment by Bill Weinberg on Jun 16th, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Bloomberg: no jail for pot possession

Global Ganja Report's picture

 In his final State of the City address Feb. 14 Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced the city will now ticket and release New Yorkers caught with misdemeanor amounts of cannabis, rather than holding them in custody overnight to see a judge, as if usually the case now. Under current law, possession of marijuana for personal use in private is punishable by a ticket, but possession of marijuana open to public view or being burnt in public is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250 with a maximum sentence of 90 days. While the announcement won praise from civil libertarians and rights activists, they were less pleased with the mayor's defense of the stop-and-frisk policy in the speech. Bloomberg played to fears of gun violence in his defense of the policy, saying it has helped uncover illegal weapons. (NORML, WSYR, Politicker, Feb. 14)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Feb 14th, 2013 at 5:32 pm

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