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Marijuana: Having 25 grams should merit only a fine, Cuomo says

June 05, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From LA Times:

New York will join more than a dozen states in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana displayed in public if the state Legislature approves a proposal made Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At an Albany news conference, Cuomo, a Democrat, called for changing the state law to make possession of 25 grams of marijuana — whether in public or private – punishable by a fine. Currently having at least 25 grams on public view is a misdemeanor, though having the same amount in private is just a violation.

Civil libertarians have long criticized the difference in approaches, which they contend discriminates against minorities and the young. A person could have a small amount of marijuana in his or her pocket and be charged with no more than a violation. But if ordered by a police officer to empty that pocket, the marijuana would be on public display and the suspect could face a misdemeanor charge.

According to state statistics, more than half of the 53,000 people arrested last year were younger than 25, and 82% were black or Latino. Less than 10% were ever convicted of a crime, Cuomo stated.

Moreover, 94% of the arrests took place in New York City, where a stop-and-frisk policy has become a sore point in relations between police and the minority communities.