Marijuana Reform Bill Fails in New York


Two weeks ago, I noted that the Republican leader of New York's Senate, Dean Skelos, had some qualms about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to decriminalize "public display" of marijuana. Under the legislation backed by Cuomo, which was aimed at curtailing bogus pot busts in which New York City cops convert a citable offense into a misdemeanor by instructing people they stop to empty their pockets, public pot smokers would still have been subject to arrest. Skelos nevertheless worried about scofflaws offending bystanders by carrying "10 joints in each ear." I swear, that's what he said. Somehow backers of this long-overdue reform were not able to satisfactorily address Skelos' outlandish fears, even though he concedes that police should not be manufacturing misdemeanors by tricking people into publicly displaying their marijuana and even though New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (who heretofore had defended the city's illegal crackdown on pot smokers) supported the change, which also was backed by the Democratic leadership of the state Assembly and by the district attorneys of New York City's five boroughs. The current legislative session ends today, and the Senate has not taken up the bill. Cuomo blames the  "ultra-conservative side" of the Republican Party for blocking this attempt to stop police from flouting the marijuana decriminalization law that the state legislature approved in 1977. Don't conservatives believe in the rule of law?