New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo seems to have jumped on the pro-marijuana bandwagon. Governor Cuomo has proposed decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Last year, the NYPD made more than 50,000 low-level inconsequential marijuana arrests. The New York Police Department, Mayor Bloomberg, and the city's top level prosecutors have endorsed the decriminalization proposal, hoping it will help cut down the number of New York City's arrests.
The high number of arrests for marijuana possession are commonly blamed on the the city's controversial 'stop and frisk' method. While the mayor and officials claim the practice has made the city safer, unfortunately the majority of those stopped are black and hispanic, which does nothing to help the perception that 'stop and frisk' is racially biased by design. While possession is a crime only if it is in public view, a striking number of arrests are made when officers order someone to empty their pockets, making the marijuana, technically, in public view.
The proposal, which would downgrade possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a $100 dollar violation, now heads to the Republican-led State Senate. It has already been endorsed by New York's five district attorneys. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., claimed that half of the 6,200 charged with low-level possession in Manhattan last year had never been arrested before. “This simple and fair change will help us redirect significant resources to the most serious criminals and crime problems,” Mr. Vance stated. “And, frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”