Rochester, N.Y. – Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a law change that would turn public possession of a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor into a violation.
As it's written now, the law presses police to arrest people who display 25 grams of marijuana or less.
The change would deliver a fine instead of handcuffs, bringing public possession in line with private possession, which was decriminalized decades ago.
The change clearly targets New York City, where a bulk of marijuana arrests occur.
“In terms of stop and frisk, a person has a small amount of marijuana in their pocket and that’s a violation, a fine,” Governor Cuomo said. “A police officer says turn out your pockets, now it’s a crime. Who could defend that?”
In Monroe County, 106 people were arrested in 2011 for public possession of a small amount of marijuana.
“We’re definitely in support of the Governor,” said Officer Stephen Scott, spokesperson for the Rochester Police Department. “I think this is a bill that is long overdue and I don’t think it will change how we enforce the law. If they’re caught with weed we’ll charge them appropriately.”
Not everyone was high on the proposal.
“They’re saying it’s OK for 25 grams, but if it’s OK for 25 grams then where do draw the line … then what’s wrong with heroin and cocaine?” asked Tom Cook, the chair of the Monroe County Conservative Party.
Under the governor's proposal, violators would face a fine of up to $100.