Some City Council members are calling for Albany to pass a bill that would de-criminalize having small amounts of marijuana in public view.
Melissa Mark Viverito, who represents East Harlem, said the arrests are hurting large numbers of young black and Latino men at a time when Mayor Michael Bloomberg is making a push to help them through a city initiative aimed at creating jobs and bolstering the quality of life.
"It's criminalizing people, and it's making it much more difficult for our young people to get jobs, for our young people to possibly get housing, et cetera," she said. "So it really is counterproductive to what it is that he is saying he wants to do."
Currently, possessing a small amount of marijuana is not a crime if it's hidden from public view. WNYC reported earlier this year that young men who face criminal charges may have been the victims of illegal searches where police officers pulled marijuana out of their clothing.
This month, the mayor announced a $130 million Young Men's Initiative intended to boost support programs for Black and Latino men.