Cuomo says smoking a joint isn’t ‘just being in possession of it’

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Governor Andrew Cuomo's support for decriminalizing the possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana in public view mirrors a directive NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly issued last year.

Cuomo said he stopped short of pushing to decriminalize the smoking of small amounts of marijuana because "smoking a joint is different than just being in possession of it."

Cuomo said he's "hopeful" to get this state law changed before the end of the legislative session at the end of the month.

At the press conference announce support for the plan, Cuomo was joined by the Democratic leader of the State Assembly, Hakeem Jeffries, police commissioner Ray Kelly and the Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance. (Cuomo said the four other New York City district attorneys supported it, along with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.) Not present were representatives of the Republican-led State Senate.

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In a Times story previewing the announcement, Cuomo aides said this change could help reduce the number of stop-and-frisks conducted by the New York Police Department, which critics note have increased to record proportions.

But when asked if he thought the NYPD conducted too many stop-and-frisks, Cuomo largely side-stepped the issue.

"I'll leave that to the police commissioner and the community within New York City," said Cuomo.