NYC mayor promises to overhaul how marijuana laws are enforced

  • NYC mayor promises to overhaul how marijuana laws are enforced

NYC mayor promises to overhaul how marijuana laws are enforced

A major investigation by the New York Times found continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and arrests in every neighborhood in the City. The speaker and Sharpton both compared the impact of pot arrests on minorities with past police stop-and-frisk street tactics, which de Blasio attacked five years ago as a candidate.

The NYPD announced a working group to study charges that there is racial profiling when it comes to NYPD enforcement of marijuana offenses, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that as of August 1, his office will no longer prosecute people who are arrested for smoking or possessing marijuana.

In a few months, most similar cases won't be prosecuted.

"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", said Vance. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals".

Vance said his office was discussing with New York City police and the mayor what exceptions there should be to the policy.

"There are differences in arrest rates, and they have persisted going back many years, long before this current administration", he said. "We need to start protecting the common, regular people".

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

Under the DA's office new policy, people who violate the law would be issued summonses. When people are being forced to miss work and miss out on time with their family over a low-level marijuana arrest, something is very wrong with our public policy.

The mayor's comments, delivered at a progressive policy conference in Washington that he had already planned to attend, came as the district attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan were working on plans to stop prosecuting the vast majority of people arrested for marijuana. As a result, 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 goal. Arrests can negatively impact job opportunities, schooling and immigration status.

Today's announcement marks the culmination of six months of research and policy analysis, including extensive, in-person interviews with law enforcement officials in jurisdictions where marijuana is no longer criminally prosecuted.

DPA is now leading a campaign, Start Smart New York, to pass marijuana legalization in New York, with a focus on racial, social and economic justice.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law and is illegal.