As budget talks finalize in Albany around issues such as minimum wage increases and where casinos will be sited, one hot-button issue—the treatment of a specific type of marijuana possession in the state drug laws—also is being considered.
Members of The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and community members gathered on Tuesday to promote ending arrests for low-level possession of marijuana, one of the non-fiscal items in the budget, which is due by March 31, reported the Times-Union.
Currently, police can issue a ticket like one you might get for speeding for the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Caucus members argued that with the enforcement of the stop-and-frisk policy in New York City, black and Hispanic youth are unjustly stopped and disproportionately saddled with criminal records, even though studies show marijuana use is more prevalent among whites.
Noting the high costs of enforcement and the difficulty of getting into college with an arrest record, Assemblyman Karim Camara, chair of the Caucus said, "We're not only punishing the individual, we're punishing society.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that a bid to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana was being considered in state budget negotiations, with the measure receiving broad support in the Assembly but waning somewhat amongst Senate Republicans.