Gov. Cuomo aims to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana, with the support of the New York Police Department, as it relates to its stop-and-frisk policy. Currently, having less than 25 grams of the drug in private is a violation resulting in a fine, but in public it results in an arrest.
There was also the issue of people having marijuana in their pockets, which would be a violation, but once police order them to take it out of their pockets, it becomes a misdemeanor.
Paul Browne, the NYPD deputy commissioner for public information, said in an email that the law will be much clearer.
“This law will make certain that the confusion will be eliminated,” Browne said. “It also mandates that a violation will be charged, irrespective of whether marijuana is in plain sight or not.”
He said Mayor Bloomberg is also a supporter of the law and hopes it passes.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) also favors the law. “I think it will have a positive effect that will send a clear message that we don’t approve marijuana possession, but it’s not such a huge crime,” Dromm said.
Although some politicians are in favor of the law, others have not yet contemplated it.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said, “In my mind it’s not that big a deal either way, and I haven’t taken a position.”
Vallone did mention that arresting people with the possession of such a small amount of the drug in plain view is wrong.
The consequences for smoking marijuana in public have remained the same.
Browne said, “I think it’s a balanced approach that supports our quality of life efforts by keeping it a crime to smoke marijuana in public.”
Dromm’s district reportedly ranks third in New York City with the number of stop-and-frisks at 18,000.
“We shouldn’t be using these laws as a pipeline to the criminal justice system,” he said.