Proposal To Decriminalize "Public View" Marijuana Loophole Appears Dead In The Water
This year's legislative session is set to come to an end Thursday, and a proposal laid out by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would decriminalize the "public view" loophole in New York's marijuana possession law appears to be dead in the water.
The governor set a deadline of last night for he and legislative leaders to reach an agreement on any legislation they wanted passed during this session. It's Tuesday, and no announcement of a deal on "public view" marijuana possession has been announced.
Possession of small amounts of 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."
For some reason, lawmakers decided that possessing weed is a crime if you're outdoors, but not if you're sitting on your couch watching Animal Planet.
Cuomo's plan is in response to the fact that 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).
Republicans in the Senate -- like Majority Leader Dean Skelos -- oppose Cuomo's plan. Skelos even made the idiotic argument that "being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear" is wrong and should be a misdemeanor, even though doing it in your apartment only is a violation -- and your run-of-the-mill ear can't accommodate "10 joints."
With the exception of several Senate Republicans, Cuomo's proposal has a lot of support -- including the support of the D.A.s from all five counties in New York City, as well as NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who was tagged as a racist by civil liberties groups because of the disproportionate number of minorities arrested for marijuana possession under the city's controversial "Stop and Frisk" policy.
It appears, however, that walking around with 10 joints in your ear will remain a crime -- unless, of course, you're doing it in your apartment.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.