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Albany Republicans Ruin Cuomo's Pot Plot

The NY governor's plan to decriminalize small-scale pot possession looks doomed to fail.

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Cuomo believed decriminalizing pot would
cut NYC arrests. Photo via

By Bryan Le

06/19/12

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana seems doomed to fail, due to resistance from the Republican-controlled senate. “We do not support legalization,” says state senate majority leader Dean Skelos. “Just being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it would only be a violation—I think that's wrong.” Cuomo introduced the motion in January in an attempt to cut the soaring number of New York arrests, and it won widespread support. Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the proposal, as did figures like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard. But efforst to broker a deal are dragging the debate out, and the future for Cuomo's plan seems bleak, with this year's legislative session ending on Thursday. The legalization issue could be discussed again when lawmakers reconvene in January, though it could be sooner if a special legislative session is called. Legalization advocates still hope a deal can be worked out at the last minute—but most aren't optimistic. “I’ve been working in Albany for almost 10 years, and I can’t recall a moment when law enforcement has said, ‘We want to have this changed,’ and the Republican Party leaders in the Senate and the Conservative Party are basically saying that they don’t want to do it,” says Gabriel Sayegh, the state director in New York for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is yet another example of how profoundly backward and dysfunctional this place is.” 

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