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Cuomo's Plan to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Pot Killed in Albany

By Jill Colvin | June 20, 2012 12:21pm

NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to decriminalize carrying small amounts of pot in public was snuffed out in Albany.

Senate Republicans have blocked the plan, which would downgrade the so-called public possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation, the equivalent of a traffic ticket, punishable by a maximum $100 fine.

“The senate made it clear they’re not going to pass it,” Cuomo said during a radio appearance Wednesday morning, blaming the “extreme conservative wing” of the party for working to block the deal.

The legislation was introduced partially in response to growing outcry against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

During stops, police have been accused of asking people to empty their pockets. If they comply and end up producing a small amount of marijuana, they can be arrested, since displaying marijuana in public is a crime.

“There is a blatant inconsistency. If you possess marijuana privately, it's a violation. If you show it in public, it's a crime,” Cuomo told reporters at a press conference in Albany earlier this month when he announed the plan.

More than 50,000 people were arrested for possessing small amounts of pot last year, up from just 2,000 back in 1990.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD had endorsed the change, saying it struck "the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety — including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana."