New York state governor, Andrew Cuomo requested to reform New York’s current marijuana possession laws in his State of the State address on Wednesday. He believes that the arrests made for marijuana possession are unlawful, costly and simply unnecessary. Cuomo brought to attention the issues that conflict between private and public possession for smaller amounts. He pointed out all of the costs and dangers that come with these arrests and requested reform.
In the late seventies New York decriminalized the private possession of marijuana although it made possession of marijuana in public a misdemeanor. With marijuana possession being one of the leading charges in New York, the citizens are calling for a reform as well. The legislature made in 1977 is quite clear about its intent:
“The legislature finds that arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties are inappropriate for people who possess small quantities of marijuana for personal use. Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crime.”
Even with the legislature in action, thousands and thousands of people in New York are unconstitutionally arrested each year. There are many cases of people who are arrested for having marijuana concealed in their pocket, but end up being charged with public possession. There have been more than 600,000 marijuana possession arrests in the past fifteen years in New York. This is no cheap process either, it’s estimated that it costs tax payers around $75 million per year to pursue citizens on marijuana possession charges.
It’s not going to be an easy battle for Cuomo or the citizens of New York. Similar reforms have been submitted to senate and shut down. It seems that many members of senate still believe that pissing away tax dollars on a needless cause is worth it.
It seems that in recent years there has been a lot of progress in decriminalizing marijuana usage, but there is still a large group of people gripping onto delusional hopes that a drug war is the answer. Hopefully Cuomo’s reform request will be taken seriously and possibly change the minds of some people in charge. Too many lives are ruined for such a harmless and petty act and with a bit of luck, senate will take this into consideration.