This afternoon, marijuana advocates will rally in front of City Hall to urge Republican lawmakers to decriminalize “public view” marijuana.
As it stands, marijuana possession in New York is a violation that’s about as serious an infraction as a parking ticket. But a loophole in the state’s marijuana law makes possessing that same marijuana in “public view” a misdemeanor.
In other words, smoking a joint in your apartment isn’t a crime. Smoking the same joint in a park is — and it could potentially land you in jail because when the law was adopted in the 1970s, lawmakers decided that smoking weed in public is somehow worse than smoking it at home.
If it doesn’t seem to make much sense, that’s because it doesn’t.
Logic aside, one of the major problems with the law is — according to weed advocates — that it discriminates against minorities; of the roughly 50,000 people arrested each year in New York for low-level marijuana offenses, 87 percent are black or Hispanic.
Governor Andrew Cuomo — and several other lawmakers — support decriminalizing “public view” marijuana. But Republicans in the Senate blocked a reform bill that would amend the “public view” section of New York’s marijuana law to make it a violation.
Cuomo’s described the bill as a way to create “fairness and consistency in our laws since there is a blatant inconsistency in the way we deal with small amounts of marijuana possession. This is an issue that disproportionately affects young people — they wind up with a permanent stain on their record for something that would otherwise be a violation. The charge makes it more difficult for them to find a job. Together, we are making New York fairer and safer, and ensuring that every New Yorker has access to justice system that doesn’t discriminate based on age or color.”
The rally is scheduled for 4 p.m. and is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for Nu Leadership, and VOCAL NY. For more information click here.