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Plan Would Limit NYPD Pot Arrests

June 04, 2012  | 

New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces legislation that would limit lower-level pot arrests. Photo: Gov. Cuomo
New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces legislation that would limit lower-level pot arrests. Photo: Gov. Cuomo

New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ask the legislature to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana to reduce the number of "stop and frisk" encounters between officers and subjects, he announced today.

Cuomo's change of state law means 25 grams or less of marijuana in public view would be charged as a violation rather than a misdemeanor. The NYPD's police commissioner and patrol union support the move.

"This is an issue that disproportionately affects young people—they wind up with a permanent stain on their record for something that would otherwise be a violation," Gov. Cuomo said in a release. "The charge makes it more difficult for them to find a job. Together, we are making New York fairer and safer, and ensuring that every New Yorker has access to justice system that doesn't discriminate based on age or color."

The move aligns with a policy directive issued by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to officers last year. Subjects who smoke marijuana in public would still be charged with a misdemeanor.

The Marijuana Reform Act, signed by Governor Hugh Carey in 1977, made private possession of a small amount of marijuana a violation punishable by a maximum fine of $100 for first-time drug offenders. Marijuana in public view remained a misdemeanor.

In the years since the passage of that law, arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana have jumped from approximately 2,000 in 1990 to over 50,000 today. About 94% of those arrests occur in New York City.

Of the individuals who were arrested in New York State last year, more than 50% were under 25 years old and 82% were either Black or Hispanic. Of those 53,124 arrests, less than 10% were ever convicted of a crime.

"The Governor's call for the changes in police response to contraband discovered pursuant to a properly conducted stop, question, and frisk make sense and runs parallel with a recent policy change issued by the Police Commissioner," said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "The NYC PBA is very supportive of clear and precise directions to its members regarding their police responsibilities in specific instances."

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

DPB @ 6/4/2012 5:06 PM

If we legalize everything there will be no discrimination based on age or color.

Rick @ 6/4/2012 5:44 PM

Innocent citizens are being killed here in CA because of the medical marijuana laws. Pot is viewed as being okay, so use is up and directly proportional to that is the number of accidents involving pot smokers. One poor photographer in Joshua Tree, CA was taking pictures along Hwy 62, when a guy high on pot ran him over. Enforcement, Education and Rehabilition is the only plan that works. It's too bad the USCG dropped their SEAL program; they'd be useful as "law enforcement" in South America in taking out the drug plants like the DEA/USCG/Bolivian Army teams in the 1990's.

Tom Ret @ 6/4/2012 8:26 PM

The Gov says he doesn't want young people to get arrested for small amounts of pot which will tarnish their records and make it hard for them to get a job. I wonder how many dope smokers are in his administration? This may cut down on arrests but how will this limit stop and frisk? Incredibly, he states that this will make things fairer and safer and not discriminate against people based on age or color. This makes no
sense to make it a race issue and appears that the governor does not believe in individual responsibility.

AL. Cutino @ 6/5/2012 12:30 AM

This makes no sence ! I live in California now for 3 weeks and everybody smells like pot and they have a card to buy it ! I'm just an old retired cajun cop from louisiana and i don't ever see this madness coming south, everybody looks spacedout, i think i'm going home !!!

Alex Inglis @ 6/5/2012 9:07 AM

For people with their medical Marijuana card things should be ok when stopped or questioned by the police but there needs to be strict sanctions on those applying."People with a chronic medical condition can benifit from the use of the drug" There also needs to be restrictions for a patient on where they can use the drug etc. just like those who take class 2 & 3 narcotics. People that don't have a real condition shouldn't receive a medical Marijuana Card. As for our youth I think there should be laws for made and enforced for them. Its the recreational users that think Medical Marijuana is something for them and is ok when it's not and the recreational users should and need to be weeded out.

Brian @ 6/6/2012 11:53 AM

@Alex Inglis: Would you want the government telling you that the only place you can take an aspirin or some other form of medication is in your home? Doubtful. It would make life pretty damned hard for those of us that suffer chronic pain to have to go home to take our meds every three hours or so, no wouldn't it? Medical Marijuana is no different than any other medication and usually a lot less intense and intrusive to the body and mind that traditional narcotic pain control medications. What you suggest is seriously a strain on anyone who takes medication regularly. Please, restate your original thought by replacing marijuana with the name of any other standard medication and tell me if your suggestion still makes sense....

@Rick: People high on all types of legal things kill people on the road daily. You aren't supposed to take prescription narcotics and drive but they haven't made those illegal.

Brian @ 6/6/2012 11:55 AM

Also @ alex inglis: do you believe that alcohol is a safe alternative to recreational marijuana use?

Jack Betz @ 6/7/2012 5:59 PM

enough is too much, just make the garbage legal and have done. THe law has better things to do than keep fools from messing up their system with the stuff.

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