Republicans Kill Marijuana Decriminalization Bill in New York

The Democrats who control the State Assembly, many of them black or Latino residents of New York City, saw a proposal to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana as a simple matter of justice: too many black and Latino men were being arrested because, after being stopped by the police, they were forced to empty their pockets.

But the Republicans who run the State Senate, all of them white and most of them from suburban or rural districts, saw decriminalization differently: as an invitation for young people to use drugs and as a declaration that Albany was soft on crime.

“Marijuana still is a gateway drug to so many other much more dangerous things,” said Senator John J. Flanagan, a Long Island Republican.

The differing life experiences, and worldviews, of lawmakers in the two chambers proved too much to overcome in the final days of this legislative session, and on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared his marijuana proposal dead.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said: “You have old folks like me who say, ‘Whoa, the decriminalization of marijuana: What are you saying? Everyone is going to walk around smoking marijuana, and that’s O.K.?’ So I think the Senate got a lot of blowback, pardon the pun.”

The demise of the proposal came amid a last-minute push to tie up loose ends before the close of the session, which is scheduled to conclude on Thursday. All legislative seats are on the ballot in the elections this year, and Republican senators have pointedly refused to take up several issues that are avidly sought by Democrats in the Assembly but that might upset conservatives, including the marijuana bill and a measure to raise the state’s minimum wage.

– Read the entire article at The New York Times.



  1. gutrod on

    Prohibition laws were introduced early in the last century as a means of harassing Blacks & Hispanics. America is still living in the past. Things haven’t changed at all. Flanagan should get his facts right. Marijuana use is mostly non-violent which can’t be said for the main gateway drug of choice for many American & Canadians:
    Alcohol. It has killed more users in one second than cannabis deaths will in our lifetime. Canadian prohibition laws are so American. Unjust ,cruel and an Abuse of Human Rights. America the Free. B.S.

  2. Anonymous on

    I’m so fucking sick of backwards-ass Republicans. Everything is always dumb, nonsensical rhetoric about security and crime for them. Hey Republicans, know what you could do that would ACTUALLY make the streets safer? Stop throwing peaceful reefer smokers in overcrowded, violent prisons with mandatory minimum sentences.

  3. Anonymous on

    The group most likely to go onto become heroin addicts is hardcore alcoholics. The first and most readily available drug to youth seems to be alcohol followed by tobacco which parents often keep on hand and rarely locked away. The next most readily available drugs to youth are prescription drugs, but you need to be old enough to climb onto the sink to get at the medicine cabinet.

    The conservatives lack of awareness of American history leads them to believe that the only thing standing between widespread marijuana use and their precious brainwashed youth is the illegality of it, but it’s the laws themselves that are responsible for all the suffering and deaths; at least with alcohol prohibition there were people actually dying from the product, not so with marijuana prohibition.

    If the best the conservatives can do is to cite the risk that marijuana users might go onto harder drugs then they’ve conceded that the debate they are trying to make isn’t about marijuana at all, their objection is like saying “If we legalized alcohol it would open the gateway to heroin addiction, so to prevent heroin use lets keep alcohol illegal even if it means giving criminals an extra source of income while turning the average American into a criminal.” Are republicans so undisciplined as to really believe that the only thing standing between them and a lifetime of addiction (to something other than coffee) is legislation? In the last six years over 55,000 people have died in Mexico alone solely because of bad drug policy while the ‘evil’ drug marijuana itself has claimed no lives due to overdose; clearly the policy and the policy makers are the problem, not the drug.