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Senate Leader Says Cuomo Pot Proposal Won't Pass

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the governor's proposal to reduce the penalty for public possession of a small amount of marijuana won't pass his chamber.

Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said it's wrong to cut punishment to a simple violation for having up to 25 grams of marijuana in the open. The bill is contingent on Skelos' allowing it to the Senate floor for a vote.

However, he said, the Senate will work on a narrower measure ensuring that the lesser penalty applies when police order someone with a joint in his pocket to bring it out in the open.

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo waded into the stop-and-frisk debate when he made a public push to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“If you possess marijuana privately it’s a violation, if you show it in public it’s a crime,” Cuomo said. “It’s incongruous, it’s inconsistent the way it’s been enforced.”

Pledging his full support, Mayor Michael Bloomberg echoed his support of the governor on Tuesday.

“We’re 100 percent in support of him with this change in the laws on small quantities of marijuana,” Bloomberg said.

Concealed possession of small amounts is a violation, subject to a ticket and $100 fine, while smoking or public possession rises to a misdemeanor.

Critics say New York City police have used the marijuana law to disproportionately arrest minority youths.

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