Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Manhattan DA To Stop Prosecuting Pot Possession

Manhattan DA To Stop Prosecuting Pot Possession

The Brooklyn district attorney's office, which in 2014 chose to stop prosecuting many low-level marijuana cases, is considering expanding its policy so that more people now subject to arrest on marijuana charges, including those who smoke outside without creating a public nuisance, would not be prosecuted, one official familiar with the discussions said. Effective August 1, my office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases.

When asked whether he would support reforming marijuana enforcement laws and was in favor of not prosecuting low level marijuana cases, the Island's DA said he would withhold comment until the NYPD completed its 30-day policy review.

According to a story published on Sunday by the New York Times, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges in the city at eight times the rate of white people over the last three years, despite almost identical usage rates.

Journalists reported that over the past three years, black New Yorkers were arrested for pot possession at eight times the rate of their white neighbors. The report said the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana. On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York Police Department will unveil a plan within 30 days to drastically reduce arrests for marijuana possession.

Gonzalez said the office is also looking to expand a pilot program that declined to prosecute cases of public smoking of marijuana where a nuisance was not created.

Marijuana is illegal in NY state except for medical use on a strictly regulated basis, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled last month that the time might be right to consider loosening statewide restrictions.

In the heavily minority and immigrant populated 120th Precinct, of the 287 calls made to 311 and 911 related to marijuana the same number of arrests were made, according to data provided by the NYPD to the City Council.

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.

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The issue of marijuana arrests was highlighted by a New York Times report on the persistent racial gap in marijuana arrests.

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

Is it time to change the policy on marijuana? "The NYPD has no interest in arresting New Yorkers for marijuana offenses when those arrests have no impact on public safety".

De Blasio announced that over the next several months, the NYPD will be working to reform its cannabis enforcement policies.

Cuomo spoke after his Democratic primary opponent, actress Cynthia Nixon, called for the legalization of marijuana as a matter of racial justice.

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

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

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