By Steve Elliott
The New York Legislature decriminalized marijuana in that state back in the 1970s. But simple marijuana possession is still the #1 cause of arrest in New York City, with 149,951 pot busts last year. What gives?
NYPD cops use the "public view" exception to the decrim law to trap people, that's what. Officers will misleadingly ask a suspect to "take the pot out of your pocket," and then bust them for "public display" of the weed, which ups what would have been a traffic ticket-like event into a violation with arrest and possible jail time.
More and more civil rights activists have noticed this disturbing phenomenon, and the NYPD is increasingly coming under pressure to stop its dishonest tactics when it comes to busting pot smokers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried last year to remove the "public view" provision in the criminal code last year, reports John Surico at the Village Voice, and even NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has asked his officers to back off with the pot arrests, already.
Happily, it seems this is finally starting to have an impact, 35 years after decrim.