NYS Senate Rolls Back 70s Drug Laws

The State Senate has approved sweeping changes to the "Rockefeller drug laws," as part of the state budget. Karen DeWitt reports from Albany.

REPORTER: The rollback of the strict drug laws on the books since the days of Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1970s was accomplished as part of state budget legislation. Senate sponsor Eric Schneiderman says the reforms fulfill a mandate of last fall's election for change.

SCHNEIDERMAN: We can do better than the mass incarceration of people who need treatment, not prison.

REPORTER: Republicans, including Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn, argued against the measure for hours on the senate floor before the vote was taken.

GOLDEN: People will die. This is a terrible, terrible, terrible bill for our state.

REPORTER: Other GOP senators called the changes the drug-pushers' protection act and predicted a crime wave. In Albany, I'm Karen DeWitt.