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Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York Continue Despite Policy Changes

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In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that arrests for possession of less than 25-grams of marijuana would stop, but that hasn’t stopped the NYPD from making arrests. Police officers are supposed to issue simple summons when no other charges are present. The first offense is punishable by a small $100 fine.

The first three-quarters of 2017 generated 13,500-marijuana possession arrests, according to Amsterdam News. That averages to about 50-arrests daily. The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) released the arrest numbers.

PROP director Robert Gangi said, “While virtually all the numbers demonstrate that NYPD arrest practices are marked by waste and racial bias, the statistics stand out for us involving arrests for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.”

In 2014, Mayor de Blasio said, “I think the fact that you will see fewer unnecessary arrests will be good for New York City as a whole; it will certainly be good for New Yorkers of color, particularly young people of color – there’s no question about that.”

Some say that the new law targets persons of color.

De Blasio received a lot of criticism for how many marijuana arrests there were during his term. Since his announcement, there doesn’t seem to be much of a change. Data from his first five-months in office indicate that more people were arrested per month for marijuana charges than both Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Giuliani.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said that low-level marijuana possession offenses would not be prosecuted in 2014. He believes prosecuting the low-level “crimes” was a waste of money.

In 2014, Thompson said, “This new policy is a reasonable response to the thousands of low-level marijuana arrests that weight down the criminal justice system, require significant resources that could be redirected to more serious crimes and take an unnecessary toll on offenders.”

A single misdemeanor arrest costs NYC $1,750. If you put all of the misdemeanor arrests in NYC together for a single day, it costs the city $787,000 each and every day.

Gangi said, “Though research and experience demonstrate that white people use and sell marijuana in proportions and numbers equal to or greater than African-Americans and Latinos, 90 percent of NYPD arrests for marijuana offenses in 2017 have involved New Yorkers of color. Time for the hypocrisy to stop and for our city to end these blatantly racist practices.”