Senate Republicans may have killed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., still is calling for the legislative change. At an event held by the New York City Bar Association last night, Vance criticized the current law, which allows police officers to have people they stop empty their pockets – and once any marijuana is outside their pockets, the possession of it becomes a crime. “It’s 6,200 cases in Manhattan in 2011 fell into that category, where the arrest was based upon of a small amount of marijuana outside, where if it had been inside the pocket … it would have been a violation,” Vance said. “I don’t think that it’s a fair distinction that a piece of clothing should frame the basis between what is legal and what is not.” Vance added that his staff would better serve the public by devoting the time spent on those cases on violent, serious crime instead. “And we are taking violent serious crime aggressively in our office, and prosecuted over the last 18 months successfully six or seven large gangs throughout Manhattan,” he said. “So I want to take those resources and apply them to more violent crime.”
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