Andrew Cuomo: "Extreme" GOPers Will Have To Answer to Voters For Killing "Public View" Marijuana Bill
As we reported yesterday, State Senate Republicans killed a bill proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would further decriminalize marijuana in the Empire State by closing a loophole that makes having weed in public a misdemeanor, while possessing weed in private is only a violation.
No skin off the gov's ass, though -- those "extreme" Republicans can look forward to facing voters in the fall, he says, and there's "no place" in New York for "extreme Conservative philosophy."
"You had the Conservative Party make their voice heard," the governor said on Fred Dicker's radio show this morning. "The state Senate heard the Conservative wing of the party and they're reacting to it -- and that will be an issue in the campaign season."
The governor again noted that "extreme' Conservative philosophy isn't gonna fly in a state like New York, and that Republicans in the state have been successful only when they take a more moderate stance.
Marijuana was decriminalized in New York in the 1970s with the passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, which made possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offense, rather than a crime that will go on your permanent record. However, a loophole in the law makes it a misdemeanor to possess weed in "public view."
The loophole has led to the disproportionate arrests of young minorities -- of the roughly 50,000 people arrested each year in New York for low-level marijuana offenses, 87 percent are black or Hispanic.
"To me, it is not complicated," Cuomo continues. "I laid out the facts. I believe it's a clear issue. i think the support I put together [for the bill] makes it clear."
Cuomo's referring to the long list of law enforcement officials that were quick to get behind the measure to close the "public view" loophole. See several of the bill's supporters below.
· NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly called it "a balanced approach." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who published an op-ed in support of legislation, also said the measure would bring greater "safety and fairness" to the criminal justice system," and called it "the right thing to do." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo's office)
· Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes said the measure would "go a long way toward a more balanced approach to drug related offenses." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo)
· Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the proposal "strikes the right appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement and the concerns of the community," and would "enhance the fair operation of our criminal justice system." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said the proposal would "make the law consistent and obviate the need for many arrests which erode the trust between the community and law enforcement." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· State Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who ran for Attorney General on the Republican line, said the measure would allow NYPD to "reallocate some of its resources to address more serious crimes." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice - the top law enforcement official in Sen. Dean Skelos's district, called the proposal a "common sense reform," and said the measure would "enhance community relationships with law enforcement," calling such relationships "the most important tool we have in keeping neighborhoods safe." (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said that "the NYC PBA is very supportive" of the measure as it would provide "clear and precise directions" to law enforcement officers. (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)
· Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard praised the measure and said it would stop the practice of needlessly "putting kids into the system which obviously if they get into the system it makes it hard for them to have gainful employment and that can create more crime for us." (June 5, CBS News 8, Rochester).
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