Pubdate: Fri, 14 Nov 2014
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2014 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Erin Durkin


Sure I Toked, Recreational Use OK

YES, THE speaker of the City Council has tried pot - and she thinks 
we should legalize it. Council Speak er Melissa Mark-Viverito says 
she supports legalization of pot, a split from her ally Mayor de 
Blasio. "It's appropriate at this time," she said.

Days after Mayor de Blasio overhauled the city's marijuana policy, 
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito went further and called for 
outright legalization of the drug.

"It's not something we can just do randomly, but with a thought 
process, and looking how it's being implemented in other areas. But I 
do support the legalization of marijuana," she said at City Hall.

The stance makes Mark-Viverito the highest-ranked city official to 
support pot legalization - and puts her at odds with her ally de Blasio.

She said she backs legalization for recreational use based on the 
experiences of other states that have made the move, like Colorado 
and Washington.

"States are speaking," Mark-Viverito said. "Based on the 
conversations that we see happening nationally, and how people feel 
about it, I think that it's just something that is appropriate at this time."

The speaker said she has used pot. "If you're asking whether I have 
smoked marijuana, yes," she said.

The Council has no power to legalize pot, which would have to be done 
on the state level. A more modest proposal by Gov. Cuomo two years 
ago to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot went nowhere, 
but the Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill last summer.

Earlier this week, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton 
said that people caught with less than 25 grams of pot will now be 
slapped with a summons, instead of getting arrested.

At that event, de Blasio - who during the campaign said he has smoked 
pot - said he doesn't support legalization, and Bratton emphatically 
opposed it.

"I am not comfortable with the notion of legalization," de Blasio 
said, citing worries about "what marijuana can lead to in a young 
person's life and the problems that can come from it."

The Drug Policy Alliance, a leading advocacy group, praised 
Mark-Viverito's stance.

"Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito's announcement further proves that 
marijuana legalization is a mainstream issue," said Kassandra 
Frederique, the group's New York policy manager.

"It is especially important that elected officials of color lead and 
frame this conversation as the harms of marijuana prohibition and 
criminalization overwhelmingly affect their communities," she added.



THEY'RE MELLOW about the end of arrests for small amounts of pot, but 
some of the city's five district attorneys expressed concern after a 
sitdown with the mayor that ticketing could over burden the court system.

Starting Nov. 19, cops will stop criminally charging people for 
holding less than 25 grams of weed, issuing summonses instead.

Queens DA Richard Brown told reporters after the meeting with Mayor 
de Blasio that changing pot penalties isn't the issue.

"I'm just fearful we're going to end up with a lot of bench warrants 
out there and a lot people being arrested as a result," he said.

Staten Island's Daniel Donovan said the group, which included NYPD 
Commissioner Bill Bratton,also discussed letting people pay tickets by mail.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom