New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pursuing a potential compromise with state Senate Republicans that could significantly scale back his plan to decriminalize open possession of just less than an ounce of marijuana, reports the Wall Street Journal. Cuomo, a Democrat, may bend on the attention-grabbing marijuana policy he backed on Monday as he faces stiff resistance from Republicans wary of relaxing the state’s marijuana laws during an election year.
Cuomo’s proposal would make it a violation to possess openly 25 grams (seven-eighths of an ounce) or less of marijuana, treating it essentially the same as people arrested for private possession. A violation generally involves an officer issuing a summons, which would carry a fine and a court date. Proposals are now under consideration to satisfy Republican concerns by decriminalizing open possession of marijuana under a more narrowly defined set of circumstances than the legislation announced by the governor on Monday, people familiar with the matter said. For instance, walking around with small amounts of marijuana could be classified as a violation, not a crime, as long as the substance is stored in a sealed container. The law could also create special zones where displaying even a small amount of marijuana would remain a crime, such as near schools or inside subway cars.