Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo asked state lawmakers to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. And while he may not be courting the elusive “midnight toker” demographic just yet, the governor’s proposal spells good news for opponents of the city’s stop and frisk policy, as reported by Margaret Hartmann for New York Magazine.
The proposed changes don’t directly change the policy of stop and frisk, but they are meant to prevent “thousands of young male minorities from being put into the criminal justice system after officers essentially direct them to violate New York’s drug laws.”
From New York Magazine:
In New York, pot possession is only a criminal offense if it’s burning or in plain view, up to 25 grams. Yet, during Mayor Bloomberg’s administration there have been 400,000 low-level marijuana arrests, making it the city’s most prevalent crime. You haven’t missed the roving bands of urban youths openly doing bong hits in the middle of the street. If an officer tells a man to turn out his pockets during a stop-and-frisk and a joint falls to the ground, that counts as “plain view.” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told cops to knock it off in September.
“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,” Governor Cuomo said at yesterday’s announcement, joined by legislators, district attorneys, and law enforcement officials. “The charge makes it more difficult for them to find a job.”
Under Cuomo’s plan, smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor, but possession in plain view would be reduced to a violation – which is a mere ticketable offense.