Twenty-nine upstate lawmakers wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders yesterday urging that a proposal to decriminalize a small amount of marijuana in New York City be expanded to include all of the state.
The measure, introduced last week, would no longer lead to misdemeanor charges if a person is found with less than 25 grams of marijuana in New York City. They would face a $100 fine. The proposal is aimed at limiting a controversial “stop and frisk” policy in the city.
But upstate lawmakers in a letter penned by Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester, said the whole state should be included.
“Too may youths begin their adult lives with criminal records while dedicated police officers use up valuable time processing minor arrests,” the letter says. “If statewide legislation aimed at reducing penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana is enacted, these issues will be addressed in much more thorough manner.”
The arrests for small amounts of marijuana has largely been a New York City issue.
There were 53,124 low-level marijuana arrests in 2011, and 94 percent were in New York City, records from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services showed.
Cuomo’s office said last year that more than 50 percent of those arrested were under age 25 and 82 percent were either black or Hispanic.
Outside New York City, Westchester trailed only Suffolk County in the number of minor marijuana arrests in 2011. Suffolk had about 1,500, and Westchester had about 750.
Monroe County had 106, Rockland and Dutchess each had 19 and Broome had 15. Tompkins had 2, and Chemung had 1. Twelve rural counties had no arrests in 2011, Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported last year.
Here’s the letter: