He had introduced the bill with much fanfare earlier this month. He noted that the misdemeanor charge for public possession was unfairly snaring New Yorkers in stop-and-frisk policing in New York City.
“I think the law is flawed as it is, but I think it’s aggravated by the stop-and-frisk scenario where, legitimately, a police officer can say ‘turn out your pockets’ and the suggestion of the police officer transforms the action from a violation to a crime,” Cuomo said.
Possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana was reduced in state law to a violation in 1977, subject to a ticket and fine. If the pot is burning or in public view, it rises to a misdemeanor and can result in a lifelong police record.
Cuomo’s proposal would make public or private possession of the small amount a violation, although smoking it publicly would remain a misdemeanor.
But Senate majority leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said it would be wrong to downgrade the punishment to a simple violation.
“Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and only being a violation, I think that’s wrong,” Skelos said. “If the question is emptying out your pockets and that becoming a misdemeanor, then I think we can work on it.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and district attorneys from the five boroughs all endorsed Cuomo’s proposal.
The Senate’s Republican majority opposed the measure.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)