More Marijuana Reform Needed To Rein in NYPD

A form of “classic entrapment” used by the NYPD to catch marijuana users must be ended by reducing the charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation, Fort Greene’s assemblyman proposed last night. Possession of small quantities of marijuana “out of plain view,” say, in a pocket, was reduced to a violation in 1977. But the higher penalty remains for drugs that are “in plain view” — a penalty that provides an incentive for officers to stop and frisk otherwise innocent people in hopes of getting their small stash into open view, said the assemblyman, Hakeem Jeffries.  “It’s classic entrapment,” said Mr. Jeffries, who long opposed the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, as he outlined his call for new marijuana possession rules in his “state of the district” address on Thursday night at the Pratt Institute.   “It’s only happening in certain communities,” Mr. Jeffries said. “It’s not happening in the Village. It’s not even happening in Williamsburg, despite the fact that marijuana use in those communities is equal if not greater than those in [Fort Greene and Clinton Hill].” The marijuana proposal was one of several policy initiatives proposed by Mr. Jeffries — but one that attracted the most immediate attention. “That was an eye-opener,” said Christine Powell, a 30-year resident of Clinton Hill. The NYPD did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.

In other topics in his fifth such “state of the district” address, Mr. Jeffries:

• promoted the “One Child, One Laptop” initiative, whose goal is to get a computer in the hands of every local student within five years. “We need to adequately prepare our students for the modern economy,” he said.

• again called for a hike in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour.

• celebrated the G train. “I remember when the G train used to be one the most dangerous lines in the system,” Mr. Jeffries said. “You couldn’t pay me to take the G train. I used to think that the ‘G’ stood for ‘gangster.’”

• called for a $500 million fund to develop affordable housing, paid for partly with funds from the Mortgage Recording Tax. Mr. Jeffries said that such a fund would remedy some of the displacement that has occurred in his district as a result of gentrification.

“It’s a painful thing for you to participate in the turnaround of a neighborhood but you can’t benefit from the fruits of your labor,” Mr. Jeffries said. The audience, filled with Mr. Jeffries’s longtime political supporters, was generally pleased with what it heard. “When you see a local elected official with such energy and such good ideas,” said Ed Brown, president of the Ingersoll Tenants Association, “Those of us that are on the ground know that our work is not going in vain.” Left unsaid was Mr. Jeffries’s just-announced campaign for Congress  and his hopes of retiring 30-year Rep. Ed Towns — so we asked about it.   “I’ve still got a job to do in the Assembly,” he said after the speech, which lasted just under a half-hour. “And I plan to work as hard as I can in that regard. The evening remarks included performances by Singers With A Testimony and a choir from M.S. 113 and remarks by Democratic District Leader Walter Mosley, who is expected to run for Mr. Jeffries’s seat.

via : Fort-Greene The Local

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