CNN legal contributor Paul Callan explained on Monday how police in New York were tricking marijuana users into getting themselves arrested.
Under current New York law, individuals in private possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana only face a finable violation. But if the same amount of marijuana is open to public view, the individual can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
“What they were doing was — it is legal to have it in your pocket, so they would frisk you and say, ‘take out your pockets’ and then you’d have the marijuana in your hand, and they’d say, ‘well, you’re publicly displaying the marijuana, you’re under arrest,’” Callan explained.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday proposed eliminating the loophole by decriminalizing possession of marijuana in public view, saying the proposed law would “save thousands of New Yorkers, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic youth, from unnecessary misdemeanor charges.” Burning marijuana in a public place would still remain a misdemeanor.
“If New York does it, that sets an enormous precedent for other states to go along and consider it,” Callan said.
The New York City Police Department, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and others have already endorsed Cuomo’s proposal.