Assemblyman Steve Katz, who was ticketed for marijuana possession earlier this year, voted Wednesday to decriminalize small amounts of pot.
The Assembly passed the bill by an unofficial vote of 80-59, but its future in the Senate is uncertain. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would lower the penalty for the public possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.
Katz, a Yorktown Republican, declined to discuss his vote when approached in the Assembly chamber Wednesday. He later issued a statement saying he hopes the bill leads to “a broader discussion of our state’s policies.”
“Rather than requiring excessive time and effort by our police force to deal with a small amount of marijuana, violators will be issued a ticket for a court date, which law enforcement has indicated will bring clarity to the current policy and make enforcement easier,” he said in the statement.
Katz was stopped by State Police in March while speeding on the state Thruway in southern Albany County. He was ticketed for marijuana possession after he handed over a 1/8-ounce bag of a substance that later tested positive for pot, according to a police report.
His attorney late last month agreed to an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal” in Coeymans Town Court, which means the marijuana charge will be dismissed if he completes 20 hours of community service and stays out of legal trouble for six months.
At the time of his ticket, Katz said he was “confident that once the facts are presented that this will quickly be put to rest.” Since then, he has repeatedly declined to discuss the incident.
Katz voted against the legalization of medicinal marijuana last year.