SUMMER BUMMER: Albany’s Blue Meanies Kill New York State Marijuana Decriminalization Bill


NEW YORK TIMES: 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. Mr. Cuomo unveiled his marijuana proposal two weeks ago, promoting it as a way to end the high number of arrests that result from the stop-and-frisk practice of the New York Police Department. He immediately won the backing of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as well as the department and prosecutors. With the support of law enforcement, some Democrats and drug-policy advocates said they did not expect the Republican-controlled Senate to stand in the way. “You have the governor of the state, the speaker of the Assembly, the mayor of the city, the police commissioner, all five D.A.’s from the city,” said Harry G. Levine, a sociologist at Queens College who has studied the city’s marijuana arrest practices. “It seemed like if this many powerful people said they wanted X, which wasn’t that big a deal, it should be possible to do it.” But the collapse of the marijuana proposal illustrated an at-times awkward reality about the balance of power in Albany: Legislation eagerly sought by New York City can easily be torpedoed by lawmakers from upstate, even when the legislation largely affects only residents of the city. The marijuana measure would have had an impact mostly on city residents because, of the more than 50,000 low-level marijuana arrests in New York State last year, 9 in 10 occurred in the city, according to state data. MORE