Republicans Plan To Block New York’s Popular Proposal To Decriminalize Marijuana

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Just weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) proposed to lower the charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana, the New York Times reports that the proposal is “doomed” thanks to the state’s Republican-controlled Senate.

Despite the fact that Cuomo’s proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), the New York City Police Department, and the city’s top prosecutors, Republicans are digging in their heels on the issue. The state’s Senate Majority Leader has confirmed that the Senate will not take up the proposal, saying, “We do not support decriminalization.”

Gabriel Sayegh, the state director for New York’s chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance advocacy group, expressed his frustration with the political deadlock:

SAYEGH: 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. This is yet another example of how profoundly backward and dysfunctional this place is.

Republican lawmakers’ intransigence coincides with recent polling that shows Americans’ support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high. Democratic mayors in Newark and Chicago have also come out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession in their cities.