Legislation introduced in Albany would reduce penalty for pot possession

Prosecutors say the proposed bill is an important step to reforming the system. (7/9/14)

NEW YORK - Some lawmakers in Albany want reduced penalties for marijuana possession, because they say the current policy targets young people of color.

Lawmakers introduced legislation in Albany to reduce the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a summons. That way, police would not arrest drug suspects but ticket them instead.

The bill is called the Fairness and Equity Act. It expands on the law passed in 1977 that decriminalized private marijuana possession in New York state.

READ MORE: Bronx Crime Stories

State Assemblyman Karim Camara (D) says that young white people in the same age bracket smoke more marijuana than blacks and Latinos, but 86 percent of arrests are black and Latino. "We've got to make the laws right," he says.

Prosecutors say the proposed bill is an important step to reforming the system.

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