“Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Police Department made about 50,000 arrests last year for low-level marijuana possession, said the governor’s proposal ‘strikes the right balance’ in part because it would still allow the police to arrest people who smoke marijuana in public.
The marijuana arrests are a byproduct of the Police Department’s increasingly controversial stop-and-frisk practice. Mr. Bloomberg and police officials say the practice has made the city safer, but, because most of those stopped are black or Hispanic, the practice has been criticized as racially biased by advocates for minority communities.”
“Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, framed the issue as one of racial justice as well as common sense, saying that the police in New York City were wasting time, resources and good will making tens of thousands of unnecessary arrests. Possession of small amounts of marijuana is a crime only if the marijuana is in public view or if it is being smoked in public, but many of the marijuana possession arrests have been occurring when the police order someone stopped to empty his or her pockets, making the marijuana visible — a phenomenon the governor called an ‘aggravated complication’ of the stop-and-frisk practice.”