Sunday, 27 May, 2018

NY Mayor De Blasio Promises To Stop Arresting People For Marijuana

Starting Aug. 1 Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. will no longer prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases his office announced Manhattan District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Minor Marijuana Cases
Melinda Barton | 17 May, 2018, 02:40

The New York Police Department will overhaul its policies for enforcing pot laws in the next 30 days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, adding the city "must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement".

Noting the racial disparity of marijuana arrests, the Manhattan DA's office said Tuesday that "large numbers of New Yorkers become further alienated from law enforcement and removed from community participation at an enormous cost to the criminal justice system, for virtually no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent objective". Effective August 1st, my Office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases. Although marijuana arrests dropped during de Blasio's tenure, there were still over 17,000 arrests in 2017.

"At the same time, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the state of NY, and ultimately, this is an issue that should be decided in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way by the state Legislature, and not as a rushed reaction to the top news headlines of the day".

Vance found that punishments imposed after pot possession cases go to court are nearly non-existent - yet the arrests themselves hurt people's chances of getting a job or staying in the country if they are immigrants.

The findings follow an article published Sunday at the New York Times that found that over a period of three years, black people in New York were eight times more likely to face arrest for low-level marijuana charges.

"New York's marijuana arrest crusade is causing significant harms to the City's most vulnerable communities and has always been used as a justification for the hyper-policing of communities of color", said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system". The mayor was not specific on details of the plan.

Following the mayor's announcement, the NYPD said it would consult experts, advocates, and other outside groups during a 30-day policy review. "But there are differences in arrest rates, and they have persisted going back many years, long before this current administration".

The Council did its own analysis of 311 and 911 call data and found it did not match up with arrests.

Red Hook in Brooklyn had 88 calls to 311 and 911, but 246 arrests. "Ultimately, the best way to address the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to create a system to tax and regulate marijuana that will reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by the marijuana arrest crusade", Frederique continued.

"The grandchild of stop and frisk is marijuana arrests based on race", Sharpton said.

On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned a study on legalization earlier this year.

De Blasio began to shift his tone on the issue during an appearance on NY1 Monday night. "People have to feel, they have to see that policing is being applied consistently across all different kinds of communities". We've heard legislators who are considering it.