New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently outlined his agenda for the 2017 legislative session, and in that outline was a call on lawmakers to improve the state’s marijuana decriminalization law by eliminating the “public view loophole” that results in the arrests of so many (mostly minorities) for minor cannabis possession.
“In 2016, Brooklyn Defender Services represented 1,070 of the many thousands of New Yorkers arrested for low-level marijuana possession, of whom 85% were Black and/or Latinx and 371 were 21 or younger. Our clients can lose their jobs, homes, and children, and even be detained by immigration authorities and deported for this offense, which a majority of Americans believe should be legal. We applaud any legislation that will reduce or—better—eliminate these senseless and discriminatory arrests,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services. The percentage of blacks and latinos arrested statewide is in the same range as well, at 83%.
“We are pleased that Governor Cuomo remains committed to ending arrests for low-level marijuana possession in New York and that he recognizes the human and financial cost of marijuana prohibition.” said Alyssa Aguilera, the Co-Executive Director of VOCAL-NY. “However, without real political muscle we know that this proposal will continue to languish, as it has for several years now. We hope that by including marijuana decriminalization in his State of the State Book that the Governor will not only support - but also fight for - long overdue marijuana reform.”
In the last 20 years over 800,000 New Yorkers were arrested for minor marijuana possession thanks to the public view loophole, a loophole Gov. Cuomo attempted to close in 2014. At that time he was blocked by Republicans in the state senate, a body the GOP has narrow control over at this time.