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New York Decriminalizing Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana
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On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new legislation that would be decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and would turn it into a noncriminal offense in place of a misdemeanor. The step is supposedly frowned upon by members of the NYPD who just love to stop-and-frisk citizens. In fact, critics say that the NYPD routinely carries out stop-and-frisk operations targeting minority residents and arrest them for having small amounts of marijuana. More than the misdemeanor, the arrest records assure that minority residents are castrated regarding any background checks for jobs, schools, colleges, and finding rented property.

Misdemeanor arrests in respect to small amounts of marijuana possession made by the NYPD have blown out of all proportions reaching more than 50, 000 arrests in 2011 from about 2000 arrests a year in 1990.

The 6,000 people who had been arrested by NYPD only in Manhattan last year for possession of marijuana in public, would have only received a summons if the new legislation had been passed earlier.

  
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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, “The human costs to each defendant charged with a misdemeanor are serious. And the drain of resources in our office and the NYPD to process those 6,000 cases is significant.”

Cuomo said that the lowering of the penalty was “long overdue” and that it would redress a “blatant inconsistency in the way we deal with small amounts of marijuana possession.”

“This is an issue that disproportionately affects young people,” said Cuomo, “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.”

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Last year, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly was seriously criticized by proponents of stop-and-frisk-the-minority agenda when Kelly issued a department-wide directive to stop arresting people for the possessing small amounts of marijuana, unless the drug was displayed in public. Despite the directive, NYPD officers arrested and permanently crippled the records of at least 50, 000 people only last year.

Bloomberg, the New York Mayor said that the new legislation “strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety – including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana.”



Gabriel Sayegh, New York state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group, said that “The police would not be inhibited in any way from confiscating marijuana, and they could still take an individual down to the precinct. And if someone were to continue to possess marijuana, a judge would still have the option for a jail sanction.”

Since 1998, New York state records show, that an average of one in every seven arrests was for marijuana possession.



 

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