NY Governor Cuomo Calls for Marijuana Law Reform

In his State of the State address Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called on the legislature to reform the state's marijuana laws. Marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the state since 1977, but New York City has emerged as the nation's marijuana arrest capitol because the NYPD habitually charges small-time offenders with "open view" possession -- a misdemeanor -- after intimidating them into pulling their baggies out of their pockets.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/andrew-cuomo-200px.jpg
Andrew Cuomo
More than 600,000 people have been arrested for pot possession in New York in the past 15 years, most of them in New York City. The NYPD arrested some 50,000 people for "open view" possession in 2011 alone, 85% of them black or brown, mostly young men.

Cuomo attempted to push forward a reform bill last year, but that effort was stalled in the state Senate despite being supported by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelley, all five New York City prosecutors, and numerous others.

Cuomo noted the discrepancy in the law between public and private possession and called on solons to enact legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of pot in either private or public. The governor cited the negative impacts of mass marijuana arrests, including criminalization, stigmatization, wasted resources, and racial disparities.

"It's not fair, it's not right. It must end, and it must end now," he demanded.

Mass marijuana arrests are "not worth it in dollars, in stigma or in impact. In order to fix the inequity in the law while still recognizing that possession in public is different from possession in one's home, the Governor will propose legislation that makes 'open view' possession of marijuana in amounts of 15 grams or less a violation punishable by a fine," he said in prepared remarks.

That's what drug reformers, community activists, and civil liberties and racial justice activists wanted to hear.

"We cannot have the same laws applied differently to different groups of people when the dividing line is race," said Gabriel Sayegh, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The governor’s proposal is an essential step towards bringing greater fairness and equity to both our drug laws and policing practices in our state. The criminalization of our young people must end -- the legislature must now act now to pass the governor’s bill."

"I hope [Republican conference leader] Senator Skelos and the entire legislature heard Governor Cuomo loud and clear when he said it's time to end marijuana arrests that 'stigmatize and criminalize' young people of color, which have been one of the leading consequences of stop and frisk," said Alfredo Carrasquillo, a civil rights organizer for VOCAL-NY. "Governor Cuomo is right that these arrests mean more than a night in jail -- they can have lasting effects on a person's access to jobs, housing and a better future."

"With stop and frisk and needless criminalization, too many of our young people are swept up in the criminal justice system. Governor Cuomo’s reform proposal is a critical step towards a brighter future for our youth," said  Kyung Ji Kate Rhee of the Center for NuLeadership. "Instead of wasting money on these arrests, we should be investing in community development and resources that are far more effective at guiding our youth in the choices they make towards fulfilling their best potential."

Now, let's see if the legislature is listening.

Albany, NY
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The "D" Word

The word Decriminalize is starting to get old real fast. I understand that decrim is a necessary step for those that are not smart enough to understand the necessary purpose that cannabis (THC, THCA, CBD, CBN, and many other still unknown canabinoids) has for our health and well being, as well as, our right to personal liberty.

Momentum is shifting, I expect a progressive federal cannabis policy (re-scheduling, Laissez-faire) to move along rather quickly in the next year; there really isn't much choice otherwise.

What happened to 'our' free country?

Over a 3-year period, marijuana was the top cash crop in the state of North Carolina. Tobacco, more than $100 million behind. Cotton is third on the list.

Marijuana is the top crop in 12 states and ranks among the top three in 30 states.

It does not take a banker to see that this is a great business.

Law enforcement needs to re-direct its focus on crime...to those that are REAL crimes. I was in Federal Prison for 5 years for a marijuana offense. No, it was not for simple possession. I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida...charged and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana. As my years in prison rolled by, what I did see were armed bank robbers, coming and going...while I still sat there for marijuana. Most of the bank robbers only spent 17 to 24 months. But, I and my fellow 'drug offenders,'...we stayed for YEARS. I wrote about the escapades that led to my incarceration. I admit, I had a great time. No one was injured, no one was killed, firearms were not involved...there were no victims. We were Americans...doing what Americans do best...living free. Truly, it is time for this lunacy to end...it never should have begun. My book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank  Tales of adventure in the marijuana trade... I would be honored by your review.

 

hypocrite

All Cuomo cares about is the city is receiving lower tax revenue because a marijuana arrest is being used as an excuse to pay lower wages.

Stop selling alcohol and start selling marijuana

I just started a petition to allow liquor stores to sell marijuana if they stop selling alcohol.

http://wh.gov/PHy5
 

New York City and Plants

Is the city of New York biased towards Plants ? How else do plants grow in a concrete jungle except indoors ? Colorado is the new King . Not Cali. or N.Y. , .  Colorado .   A  $5 snow bud anyone ?

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