Cuomo wants state to decriminalize pot possession

January 13, 2017 - 12:51 am
(WBEN/AP)  Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to lessen the penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

Under current state law, most people caught with small amounts of marijuana for the first time receive a fine akin to a parking ticket. But officers can still arrest someone if the marijuana was in public view.

The governor's proposal would change that by completely decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.  But criminal penalties would remain for dealers or for people who use marijuana in public or while driving.

The Governor did not include the proposal  (read it below) in his recent State of The State messages held across the state this week, but did put it in an over 300 page book outlining the  proposals that he highlighted during those speeches.  READ ENTIRE BOOK OF PROPOSALS HERE

" Recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety. The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives, " he wrote.

"The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety," he says.

In the past Cuomo has sought to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession, but those measures failed in the legislature in 2012 and 2015. While the 2015 t  proposal would have applied to anyone caught with 2 ounces of marijuana or less, his current proposal -released publicly, but not sent to the legislature so far--doesn't yet elaborate on any specific amounts or penalties.

From Gov. Cuomo's State of The State Book
Proposal: Decriminalize Marijuana

In 2014, over 620,000 people across the U.S. were arrested for possession of  marijuana. This figure represents more than one in twenty arrests for that year and  equates  to  1,700  arrests  per  day -- more  than  one  arrest per minute.  This past year, almost 90 percent of marijuana law  violations were for possession and  not sale.

The  over prosecution  of  marijuana  possession has  significant  fiscal  impacts.  In  2010,  New  York  City spent  $75  million  to  arrest  and  jail  individuals  for  the possession of mostly small amounts of marijuana. An estimated   90   percent   of   those  individuals had  no subsequent felonies.

The  illegal  sale  of  marijuana  cannot and  will not be  tolerated  in  New  York  State,  but  data  consistently show  that  recreational  users  of  marijuana  pose  little  to no  threat  to  public  safety.  The  unnecessary  arrest  of these  individuals  can  have  devastating  economic  and social effects on their lives. Individuals can miss work, be fired, establish a record that prevents them from finding work in the future, and spend time in jail awaiting trial if they are unable to post bail.

Continuing the Governor’s commitment to reduce the   number   of   nonviolent   individuals   who   become needlessly   entangled   in   the   criminal   justice   system, Governor  Cuomo  will  advance  legislation  amending  the State’s marijuana drug laws by removing the criminal penalties  that  too  often  result  in  the over-prosecution and   jailing   of   non-violent   individuals.   

This   measure reflects  the  national  trend  and  dramatic  shift  in  public opinion.   Whereas   other   states   have   sought   the   full legalization  of  marijuana,  this  legislative  change  will specifically   affect   individual   users   and   not reduce penalties on those who illegally supply and sell  marijuana.


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