In an effort to persuade New York lawmakers to support Governor
Andrew Cuomo’s push to decriminalize “public view” marijuana arrests, a
drug policy group has started a video campaign to illustrate how people
are getting screwed by a loophole in the Marijuana Reform Act, which
(supposedly) decriminalized weed in the Empire State in 1979.
As it stands, if you’re busted with weed in private, you’ve committed
a violation that’s about as serious a crime as a parking ticket.
However, if you’re caught with weed in public, it’s a misdemeanor. 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).
The Drug Policy Alliance has put together a 15-part series of interviews with people explaining how they were screwed by the “public view” portion of New York’s marijuana law. The latest segment in the series is the story of Alfredo Carrasquillo, who was hanging out with three of his friends in the staircase of a public housing project in Spanish Harlem when they were approached by five uniformed police officers. The officers entered the building and approached Alfredo and his friends with their guns drawn. Alfredo and his friends were arrested for marijuana possession in public view, even though the officers found the marijuana in their pockets. Hear his story below.