Thursday, June 7, 2012

State Senate Open to Changes in Marijuana Laws

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Cannabis Health Science
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State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said Wednesday that he’s opposed to a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic lawmakers to decriminalize the public possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana. But the chamber’s top Republican didn’t rule out some softening in the law.

Skelos told reporters in Albany that police shouldn’t arrest people who display pot after being told to empty their pockets by a police officer.

But he said it should still be a crime to possess 25 grams of marijuana in other cases, whether the drug is concealed or not.

“The issue was in the city, in particular, if you’re stopped by a policeman, asked to empty your pockets, if you had a joint in your pocket, that would be a violation,” said Skelos. “But bringing it out on the desk at his instruction would make it a misdemeanor. That is wrong. It should be a violation. You’re following the policeman’s order. But being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it only being a violation, I think that’s wrong.”

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo retorted: “Carrying 10 joints in each ear would require some set of ears.” The spokesman said the governor’s office would continue talks with the Senate “to end an injustice that has been allowed to go on for too long.”

On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City law-enforcement officials announced their support for Cuomo’s effort to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The move comes amid increased scrutiny of the numbers of young minority men arrested by the New York Police Department.

The NYPD made 50,668 arrests on low-level marijuana charges in 2011, the highest number since the administration of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. As the Journal reported Wednesday, such arrests dropped sharply after a September order by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to issue only a summons for the offense.

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