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Queens Chronicle

Decriminalizing pot will not happen

Plan lacked support in State Senate

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Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 2:39 pm, Thu Jun 28, 2012.

Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to decriminalize the public possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana, which Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly support, faced major opposition from Republicans in the Senate.

Although the proposal was intended to limit the number of stop-and-frisks, many Republicans believed the law would encourage drug possession. On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo declared his proposal dead

“It’s disappointing that the Legislature can’t put politics aside when justice is on the line,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in an emailed statement.

Republicans in the Senate have already seen initiatives, such as same-sex marriage and greater taxes for those with higher incomes, become realities without their support.

Paul Browne, the NYPD deputy commissioner, said, “Commissioner Kelly is supportive of the change. He’s not in the business of handicapping the odds of passage.”

Lieberman said she believes the current policy regarding stop-and-frisk and marijuana possession ruins the relationship between the community and the police.

“Arresting and jailing tens of thousands of people each year for marijuana possession does not make New York safer,” she said. “It drives young New Yorkers into the criminal justice system. It strips young men of color of their dignity and saddles them with permanent criminal records.”

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he has not taken an official position on the resolution in Albany because of concerns he has with the measure. Although he said the proposal was made with good intent, it still has its flaws.

“I agree that people should not be arrested if they empty their pockets,” Vallone said. “My concern with this law is that it goes too far — 25 grams is a lot of pot to be walking around with.”

“I was hoping the Senate would come to a compromise and make it less marijuana,” he said, but added that one was not made.

“It doesn’t concern me either way,” he said.

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