The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Press Conference: Legislation to Bring Consistency and Fairness to the State's Penal Law and Save Thousands of New Yorkers from Unnecessary Misdemeanor Charges

Capitol, Red Room
June 4, 2012

As delivered

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Speaker Silver joins Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Capitol to announce the introduction of legislation to address the unfairness of the current law and its impact on the penalties for the private and public possession of small amounts of marijuana.

What the Governor is proposing this afternoon, is a logical and unfortunately necessary clarification of the law as it exists today.

It is - and has always been - the intent of the Legislature to make possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana a violation and not a crime, under the leadership of the Chair of our Codes Committee Assemblyman Joe Lentol, along with several Caucus members including Hakeem Jeffries, Jeff Aubry, Assembly member Camara, and Assembly member Keith Wright.

The Assembly conducted roundtables on this issue where it became clear that marijuana possession was being used, regrettably, to permanently scar and taint the records of thousands of young citizens, predominantly people of color, who otherwise had no record of prior criminal conviction.

It is excessive on its face and we are addressing the issue thoughtfully and swiftly.

I applaud Assemblyman Jeffries for his leadership, both in calling attention to this situation and for his efforts in crafting legislation to remedy it.

I applaud our distinguished district attorneys and Commissioner Kelly for coming together under the leadership of the Governor in bringing about a resolution of the injustices here.

I must applaud the Governor for taking up the issue, for bringing all of these parties together, as he has done so successfully on a number of issues.

And I hope that together all of us can convince the Senate that this is the right thing to do.