New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushing to decriminalize cannabis
New hope has been sparked in marijuana users from New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo said last Wednesday that New York should stop penalizing people over small amounts of cannabis. He believes the laws should reflect the “dramatic shift in public opinion.” The one across the nation illustrated by the 29 states with legal marijuana laws.
This isn’t the first time Andrew Cuomo has fought to decriminalize marijuana. While he has been against recreational marijuana in New York for no good reason, he tried decriminalizing small amounts of weed in 2012.
This year, Governor Andrew Cuomo was stealthy when bringing the subject back up. In fact, he recently gave six State of the State addresses and never once mentioned decriminalizing marijuana.
No Jail Time For Pot
However, a similar recommendation to the one made in 2012 appeared in a 383-page book detailing his 2017 plans for the state. Page 192 of the book outlined his ideas for New York’s future marijuana laws. He will still keep the penalties for dealing and smoking and public. However, possession of small amounts would no longer warrant jail time.
The governor said he is trying to prevent any further “criminal penalties that too often result in the over-prosecution and jailing of nonviolent individuals.”
The plan also mentions that 90 percent of last year’s marijuana offenses were for possession and not a sale. Decriminalizing small amounts of weed would allow for more focus on dangerous drugs and dealers.
In Syracuse, Cuomo proposed eliminating the cap on New York hemp farms. Also, he believes removing the cap would make NY hemp a $1 billion business. Current laws only allow ten hemp farms to operate at a time legally.
Governor Receives Criticism For Recommendation
The governor has been receiving some backlash for his planned leniency on weed. He’s already seeing opposition from members of the state Senate. Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) called the proposal a “bad idea.”
“Our kids are getting eaten up by these drugs,” said Golden, a former city cop that calls pot a gateway drug. “He (Cuomo) just wants to go so far to the left. I don’t get it.”
Fortunately, Cuomo’s paying attention to both public opinion and studies that show cannabis users don’t pose a threat to society. Additionally, alcohol is a much greater gateway drug than pot. He is not completely decriminalizing marijuana nor is he allowing the sale of it. He’s just easing the law against punishing nonviolent users.
“The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo wrote.
Decriminalizing pot would be a huge step in the right direction. New Yorkers risk arrest for marijuana while people in several nearby states like Massachusetts and Maine do not. Current state law regarding marijuana does not reflect the green rush currently sweeping the nation. Fortunately, the stigma around weed is not causing the governor to neglect the obvious shift in public opinion.