In his State of the State address today, Andrew Cuomo’s prepared remarks show that he views marijuana arrests as too costly. Yes, too costly in terms of the effects on the lives of New Yorkers ensnared in the legal process. But also, keenly in terms of getting Republican support, in pure dollars and cents:
The mounting number of arrests without convictions in this area is not cost-free for law enforcement or the public either. A cost-benefit analysis performed by Dr. Harry Levine of Queens College examined the costs to the police and courts of each arrest—approximately $764 in police and $336 in court costs. Based on the number of arrests, the analysis concluded that it costs approximately $75 million a year to support the current practice.
His solution is not to decriminalize, but rather to simply make possession outside the home of more than about half an ounce (15 grams) of weed. Possession of about an ounce (25 grams) in the home is a non-criminal offense already. And already punishable by a fine.
Two things stand out, here. The first is that most of the above-cited costs of criminal possession of marijuana stay right where they are if you’re going to fine everybody you find with weed on them. And since (last I knew) you got fined for having weed in addition to the criminal charges anyway, I’d call this a financial wash at best: it would be better to just decriminalize in both cases, inside and outside the home.
The second is rather an obvious logistical problem that most anyone who has ever gone grocery shopping understands: how do you get 25 grams of weed home if you’re only allowed to have 15 grams of weed on you in public? Make two trips?
No, no. Acid is still illegal.