Cuomo’s Marijuana Decriminalization Plan Takes Back Seat

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a ceremony in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Friday, March 16, 2012.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Bloomberg and Cuomo. Photo: Mike Groll/AP

It appears that Governor Cuomo's plan to decriminalize marijuana and thereby save thousands of New Yorkers from what he termed the "unnecessary life-altering trauma of a criminal arrest" will have to wait until next session, reports the Times. Cuomo announced a plan earlier this month — supported by both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — that would lessen the severity of pot possession up to 25 grams (as long as it's not burning) from a misdemeanor to a violation for first-time offenders. Facing pressure over the city's stop-and-frisk arrests, Bloomberg had expressed his desire to push Cuomo's plan through before the expiration of this year's legislative session, but a combination of higher priorities and resistance from the Republican-controlled Senate have prevented lawmakers from striking a deal on the bill.

"In truth, some of the matters that are still open — like teacher evaluations — these are not urgent matters. They're complicated,"  Cuomo said on former Governor David Paterson's radio show. "My instinct is we have time."

Cuomo had set a midnight Monday deadline for deals in order to comply with the state's three-day waiting period requirement. The legislative session ends on Thursday and the next one doesn't begin until January, unless Cuomo calls for a special session later this year. In the meantime, please excuse the life-altering trauma of a criminal arrest.