Assemblywoman Clark: Legislation to Bring Consistency and Fairness to the State's Penal Law and Save Thousands of New Yorkers from Unnecessary Misdemeanor Charges
June 5, 2012
What the Governor has proposed this week, 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 New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus members including 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 members of my community especially, young Black and Latino males that have long since tolerated stop, question and frisk. It was their voices that first brought attention to this miscarriage of justice. I applaud all those involved including the Governor for taking up the issue, for and bringing all of these parties together. This is a first step to having stop, question and frisk eradicated. Codifying the legislative intent of the marijuana statue does not prevent nor will it curtail stop and frisk. Shortly after we celebrate this major victory for so many in our community we should begin to discuss limiting the use of stop, question and frisk to be used only as a last resort. And I hope that together all of us can convince the Senate that this is the right thing to do.