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New York General Assembly approves penalty reduction for public marijuana display

Posted on May 31, 2013 by News Admin

 The New York General Assembly yesterday approved a bill that would reduce he penalties for public display of small amounts of marijuana.

Assembly Bill 6716, introduced by Brooklyn Assemblymember Karim Camara, would make public display of marijuana a ticketable offense instead of one that mandates jail time. The law somewhat aligns public display laws with private possession laws passed in 1977 that decriminalized up to 25 grams of marijuana.

As we've talked about here in the past, despite the decriminalized status really didn't mean much for New York police, who would frisk people then charge them with public display of the herb they otherwise were legally carrying. It's a move used often, and mostly on blacks and Latinos as study after study after study has shown.

There were about 45,000 marijuana arrests in New York for marijuana possession in 2012, with 40,000 of them occurring in New York City. According to studies, pot arrests cost New York taxpayers at least $75 million each year.

"By closing this loophole and standardizing the law, this legislation will help restore fairness, equity, and sensibility to our marijuana possession laws," Camara said in a Drug Policy Alliance press release. "Marijuana remains illegal, and penalties for possessing it remain on the books, but no longer will someone incur a lifelong criminal record for simple possession. This is a civil rights issue, and I'm proud of my colleagues in the Assembly for passing this important bill. Now it's time for our colleagues in the Senate to act, so we can deliver this bill to Governor Cuomo for his signature."

While the move clearly makes plenty of sense to anyone with half of a brain, apparently there were some 59 representatives who disagreed and would rather see minorities continue to be targeted for arrest in the state of New York. They should all be booted for not listening to their constituents either, who approve of the move by a 60 percent margin according to a Drug Policy Alliance poll.

The bill now moves on to the Senate, which has also been considering a similar piece of legislation this session. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that addressing the marijuana law problems would be a priority for his office in 2013, which many take as a sign that the guv would be opening to sign the bills.