June 20, 2012 / 7:56 PM / 7 years ago

New York legislature rejects changes to marijuana law

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York State Senate’s Republican majority has shot down a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would have decriminalized the public possession of nearly an ounce of marijuana.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (L) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, talk during a news conference in Albany, New York June 4, 2012. REUTERS/Hans Pennink

Currently, possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal violation, but displaying it in public is a misdemeanor.

Cuomo, a Democrat, wanted to remove the distinction between public and private possession, steps more than a dozen states and several of the largest U.S. cities have already taken.

The Senate “has no plans to take up the governor’s bill” before this year’s legislative session ends on Thursday, a spokesman said.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters he had reservations about the amount of marijuana allowed under the bill, saying the proposal would allow people “to walk around with 10 joints in each ear.”

Cuomo made the proposal in response to criticism of the New York City Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” practice, which allows officers to search anyone they deem suspicious.

People carrying small amounts of marijuana who empty their pockets at an officer’s request should not be charged with a crime, Cuomo said in introducing the proposal.

The state Assembly’s Democratic leadership, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, as well as the district attorneys in all five boroughs of New York City, supported the plan.

Cuomo said Wednesday that Senate Republicans had “heard the conservative wing of the party and they’re reacting to it.”

“I don’t believe this state will tolerate a party that caters to the extreme ultra-conservative side of the party,” Cuomo said in a radio interview.

Editing By Edith Honan

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