Too many people of color arrested so NYC must overhaul pot policy

Too many people of color arrested so NYC must overhaul pot policy

Too many people of color arrested so NYC must overhaul pot policy

The Manhattan district attorney's office said Tuesday it will no longer prosecute people for possessing and smoking marijuana, a move that will sharply reduce the low-level criminal charges that overwhelmingly affect black and Hispanic people.

Manhattan, where the scent of marijuana laces the air from housing projects to swanky Soho, will stop prosecuting thousands of people for pot possession and smoking, even if you still risk a US$100 fine. The DA's office said it might make "limited" exceptions to the new policy if New York City officials voice public safety concerns. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals".

And because people of color have been the primary targets in the city for decades, they are also more likely to have been arrested before on marijuana or other minor charges and have a criminal record in the first place. The report said the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez also announced Tuesday he would expand his office's efforts to not prosecute marijuana cases.

Possession of up to 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana is punishable by a US$100 fine on first offence in NY, rising to US$200 second time around. However, she recently got into hot bong water for suggesting that affirmative action in the distribution of licenses to sell the drug legally could be a form of reparations for the high number of marijuana arrests in black communities. "The number of arrests in that precinct, the 76th Precinct, were 246 arrests".

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"We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement", de Blasio said.

Under a policy de Blasio put in place in his first year in office, the NYPD now gives summonses when someone is found with marijuana in their possession, but not smoking it.

Four years ago, Brooklyn, the most populous of New York's five boroughs, announced it would no longer prosecute the vast majority of people arrested for pot possession.

De Blasio did not provide any details of what the policy changes might entail.

"The NYPD will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement within the next 30 days", he said. In 2017, he issued one of the most lenient marijuana policies in New York State, under which individuals accused for the first time of smoking in public receive a 90-day Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal ("ACD"), and those accused for the second time receive a 180-day ACD.

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"The NYPD has no interest in arresting New Yorkers for marijuana offenses when those arrests have no impact on public safety", O'Neill added.

Sharpton said the disparity was especially shocking in a city that proved that the crime rate could still be kept down after eliminating stop and frisk.

On Monday, Council Member Donovan Richards, the public safety committee chairman, pressed NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill on the topic.

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

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