The New York Police Department, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the city's top prosecutors endorsed a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana, the New York Times reports. Bloomberg, whose police department made about 50,000 arrests last year for low-level marijuana possession, said the proposal “strikes the right balance” in part because it would still allow the police to arrest people who smoke marijuana in public.
The marijuana arrests are a byproduct of the controversial police stop-and-frisk practice. Bloomberg and police officials say the practice has made the city safer. Because most of those stopped are black or Hispanic, the practice has been criticized as racially biased by advocates for minority communities. The support from Bloomberg, prosecutors, and police officials is likely to carry significant weight in the Republican-led State Senate, which is the key obstacle to passage of the bill.