Real Decrim Fails Again in New York

Smokin' Statue of Liberty
(Courtesy of

Despite a marijuana decriminalization law that was passed in 1977, hordes of New Yorkers have been arrested for pot over the last 15 years, thanks to a loophole in the law.

On May 29, the State Assembly voted 80-59 in favor of striking the section in the law that allows for "in public view" misdemeanor arrests. In public view includes actual smoking, the smell of marijuana, or a visible bag of weed, joint or a blunt to police; the latter is the most common way of getting arrested during stop-and-frisks.

The only Republican Assemblyman to support the bill, Steve Katz, was arrested for marijuana possession in March. Stopped for speeding on I-87 just south of Albany, Katz was also charged with possessing an eighth of an ounce. In April, he agreed to an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal), which requires him to perform community service.

Update: The legislative session ended without the Senate voting on SB 3105, which was opposed by the Republican majority last year, despite Democratic Gov. Cuomo's endorsement of the bill.

All New Yorkers who care about this issue should contact their State Senator. Hopefully, next session they will see fit to right the wrong of New York's limited decrim law.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.