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Cuomo Seeks to Decriminalize 'Open Air' Marijuana Arrests

Governor's proposal would mean only a violation for small amounts of pot produced during stop-and-frisks.

Update, 6:40 p.m.: NYPD Police Commioner Raymond Kelly released a statement strongly supporting Cuomo's proposed legislation, saying it would eliminate confusion.

"I think it’s a balanced approach," he said in the statement, "and it’s significant in that it supports our quality of life efforts in that smoking it in public or burning it is still a misdemeanor, still a crime. And I want to make certain, because there is some misinformation on this—Mayor Bloomberg totally supports this legislation. He hopes that it passes in this session, as do I."

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Update, 1:50 p.m.: The New York Times says that Mayor Bloomberg announced his support today for Gov. Cuomo's plan to decriminalize "open air" marijuana arrests.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to call for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in public view found as a result of stop-and-frisk questioning, says the New York Times.

According to the Times, lawmakers in minority communities have argued that young men found in possession of small amounts of marijuana after being stopped by police “are being needlessly funneled into the criminal justice system,” and have a hard time finding employment as a result.

In late February, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Fort Greene, reintroduced a bill that would make (indicative of personal use) a violation, punishable by a $100 fine.

"The explosion of misdemeanor arrests in communities of color have needlessly scarred tens of thousands of lives and hurt the ability of many to secure employment, gain admission to college, obtain financial aid or live in public housing," Jeffries said in a statement in February.

Cuomo’s proposal would reduce the penalty for the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana in public view to a violation, says the article, though unlike Jeffries’ plan, would continue to classify public marijuana smoking as a misdemeanor.

According to the Times, the NYPD made 50,684 arrests last year for possession of a small amount of marijuana, despite a directive from NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly ordering instructing officers to not arrest people who take small amounts of marijuana out of their pockets during a questioning stop.

tyrone miller June 05, 2012 at 06:06 AM
This is surely not a bad idea Mr Cuomo. We are dealing with a natural plant, just need to keep it away from the school's environment.
Ladydi69126 June 05, 2012 at 05:09 PM
What an asinine thing to do. He is probably a pot head himself. Its bad enough now having to deal with the smell drifting in the windows from the so called gardens of the bars Make it legal your asking for more trouble
Dios Thunders June 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM
okayLadydie69126 I suppose drinking than is a great idea and young people getting ther lives ruined for having a small amount send to jail and having there lives totally ruined...Beeing illeagal is COSTING YOU MONEy if your or whgere ever a taxpayer than you should know. I think your uninformed...there s plenty more stink coming into your windows and thats ther trucks and cars fumes and al lthe dogs around here's P&S smells that really fume up in the heat, deal with it your neighbors might have to deal with smells from your apartment like cooking fumes...who knows or your cats You should see the whole picture not your worlds tiny one

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