New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a plan that would lower the penalties for being caught with marijuana in public view from a misdemeanor to a violation, meaning instead of being taken to jail offenders would get a maximum of a $100 fine for the first violation, as long as suspects have 25 grams or less.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg – whose city would be most affected by the change in state law – says he supports the plan.

Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had previously defended low-level marijuana arrests as a way to deter more serious crime, said in a statement that the governor’s proposal “strikes the right balance” in part because it would still allow the police to arrest people who were smoking marijuana in public.

To some changes like the one proposed may seem small, but taken together they all will lead to the end of cannabis prohibition. A bunch of lawmakers aren’t all going to wake up one day and see the multitude of reasons marijuana should be legal. It will be – and has been – a long, often torturous road. But by any measure the momentum is with us.

Hopefully a change in law will reduce the number of useless arrests, arrests that target mainly minority suspects. Most people agree that something needs to change.

– Joe Klare