NYC lawmakers call for end to marijuana arrests


NYC lawmakers call for end to marijuana arrests

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

"The dual mission of the Manhattan DA's office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", Vance said in a press release Tuesday. "Since 2014, the Brooklyn DA's Office has led the way in declining to prosecute marijuana possession cases, resulting in a 75 percent decline in arrests citywide and confirming that such policy does not adversely affect public safety". The move comes after The New York Times reported on the persistent racial gap in marijuana arrests. At a hearing on the matter in February of this year, NYPD Chief Dermot Shea claimed that the reason for this disproportionate enforcement was that police were simply making more arrests in neighborhoods where they received the most 911 or 311 calls reporting public weed consumption.

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.

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.

Bowing to community pressure and anger from the City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday a month-long review of how the NYPD handles marijuana-arrest procedures.

The legislation also ensures tax revenue generated from marijuana legalization is put to use repairing communities devastated by harsh enforcement of prohibition by directing revenue to fund job training, adult education, youth development programming, establish or expand community centers, bolster re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated, and otherwise support community-focused programming in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, in addition to education, public health, and drug treatment.

De Blasio announced in November 2014 that the police would start giving many people court summonses for marijuana instead of arresting them.

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

The NYPD's current marijuana enforcement policy is going up in smoke.

"The NYPD has no interest in arresting New Yorkers for marijuana offenses when those arrests have no impact on public safety", O'Neill added. "We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement - it's time for those to be a thing of the past, in New York City and all over this country". 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. The first from City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that legalizing marijuana could bring the state $3.1 billion, including $1.1 billion for the city.

But O'Neill added that officers do not target "any people of color who have no nexus to violence".

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