NY Mayor De Blasio Promises To Stop Arresting People For Marijuana

Manhattan District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Minor Marijuana Cases

Manhattan District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Minor Marijuana Cases

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr announced on Tuesday that his office will cease to prosecute most minor marijuana cases.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said that starting on August 1, he will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases. The DA's office said it might make "limited" exceptions to the new policy if New York City officials voice public safety concerns.

The New York City Council was in a full-scale revolt over charges of racial profiling when it comes to marijuana arrests. The report said the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana. A report on that research notes that the office believes that growing public support for marijuana legalization among New Yorkers-including elected officials and health advocates-is "likely to lead in the foreseeable future" to the establishment of a legal marijuana industry.

Tuesday's announcements suggest that NY ― a state now exploring the possibility of legalizing marijuana altogether, as other states have ― is starting to more forcefully tackle the disproportionate rates at which black people get arrested for marijuana, even though black and white people use marijuana at nearly the same rates, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Hizzoner and the NYPD have taken a torrent of criticism over pot arrests targeting blacks and Latinos - most recently from Rev. Al Sharpton and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who held a City Hall press conference to blast the department Tuesday. 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. That brought down the number of arrests significantly, but the racial gap persisted.

In response to the reports and announcement to policy changes, the NYPD is denying targeted marijuana arrests despite numbers proving otherwise. Although marijuana arrests dropped during de Blasio's tenure, there were still over 17,000 arrests in 2017.

The announcement came as the mayor and the NYPD has come under fire for racial bias in marijuana arrests. For example, the Times noted, "In Queens, the marijuana arrest rate is more than 10 times as high in the precinct covering Queens Village as it is in precinct that serves Forest Hills".

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

"Now the grandchild of stop and frisk is marijuana arrests based on race", Sharpton said. "We need an honest assessment about why they exist, and balance it in the context of the public safety needs of all communities".

The move comes after the release of two major reports about marijuana in New York State.

More and more Democrats in NY have thrown their support behind full legalization of marijuana, though de Blasio still opposes it. Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left in the Democratic primary, has made marijuana legalization a central plank of her campaign platform.