Andrew Cuomo: No Raise For State Lawmakers Unless "Public View" Marijuana Is Decriminalized
New York State legislators want a pay raise for the first time since 1999. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants young minorities to stop getting screwed by New York's bizarre "public view" marijuana law, and the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" policy -- and the governor made it clear yesterday that lawmakers won't get a pay bump until they get to work on decriminalizing "public view" marijuana.
"I would not even consider -- even consider a pay raise -- unless the people's business was being done in a thorough, responsible way," Cuomo told reporters yesterday.
"The people's business" also includes a raise in the minimum wage, which currently is $7.25 an hour. Cuomo wants it raised to $8.50.
New York's "public view" marijuana law essentially says this: having small amounts of marijuana in your apartment is only a violation, while having the same amount of marijuana in the street -- for some stupid reason -- is a misdemeanor.
It's been labeled the "dumbest drug law" in America.
Marijuana was decriminalized in New York in the 1970s thanks to the Marijuana Reform Act, which makes possession 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."
As we mentioned, it makes no sense.
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), who fall victim to the law because of "Stop and Frisk."
Lawmakers have since taken notice, and several have supported a plan to decriminalize "public view" marijuana -- but only because it's led to the disproportionate arrests of minorities, not because it's a stupid law.
The Legislature is in recess until January, but there's speculation it might call a special session so lawmakers can give themselves a raise. If that's the case, also on the agenda will be weed and the minimum wage if Cuomo has his way, anyway.
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