Update, 1:50 p.m.
The New York Times says that Mayor Bloomberg announced his support today for Gov. Cuomo's plan to decriminalize "open air" marijuana arrests.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to call for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in public view found as a result of stop-and-frisk questioning, says the New York Times.
According to the Times, lawmakers in minority communities have argued that young men found in possession of small amounts of marijuana after being stopped by police “are being needlessly funneled into the criminal justice system,” and have a hard time finding employment as a result.
In late February, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Fort Greene, reintroduced a bill that would make (indicative of personal use) a violation, punishable by a $100 fine.
"The explosion of misdemeanor arrests in communities of color have needlessly scarred tens of thousands of lives and hurt the ability of many to secure employment, gain admission to college, obtain financial aid or live in public housing," Jeffries said in a statement in February.
Cuomo’s proposal would reduce the penalty for the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana in public view to a violation, says the article, though unlike Jeffries’ plan, would continue to classify public marijuana smoking as a misdemeanor.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, D-Ditmas Park, came out in favor of Cuomo's proposal, saying in a statement that he supported the Governor's efforts to "correct our state's laws in relation to the possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view."
"The discrepancies in the law, combined with the exponential rise of stop, question and frisks that overwhelmingly target communities of more color, have had devastating consequences for thousands of young men whose public records have been unfairly damaged," he said.
"These arrests have cost New York City millions of dollars in litigation and related fees, dollars which ought to be targeted to programs that can direct our youth towards positive life choices," Williams said. "I hope the change that ultimately results will mirror previously introduced legislation from Assembly Member Jeffries and Senator Grisanti."
According to the Times, the NYPD made 50,684 arrests last year for possession of a small amount of marijuana, despite a directive from NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly instructing officers to not arrest people who take small amounts of marijuana out of their pockets during a questioning stop.
Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to comment on Cuomo’s proposal, his administration has opposed ending arrests for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, says the article.