Manhattan to scrap majority of ganja prosecutions


Noting the racial disparity of marijuana arrests, the Manhattan DA's office said Tuesday that "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".

"The dual mission of the Manhattan DA's Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", said District Attorney Cy Vance.

Vance noted that his office is "in discussions with the Mayor and Police Commissioner to consider limited exceptions to this policy".

A major investigation by the New York Times found continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and arrests in every neighborhood in the City.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that black and Hispanic residents are significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than their white counterparts, even in predominately white neighborhoods.

"Just take one police precinct-the 76th police precinct, Red Hook in Brooklyn-the number of 311 and 911 calls that came in complaining in 2017 were 88 calls", Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.

The "Decline To Prosecute" act kicks in August 1.

"At the same time, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the state of NY, and ultimately, this is an issue that should be decided in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way by the state Legislature, and not as a rushed reaction to the top news headlines of the day".

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"The N.Y.P.D. will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement in the next 30 days", Blasio said.

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.

De Blasio did not provide any details of what the policy changes might entail. 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 NYPD has no interest in arresting New Yorkers for marijuana offenses when those arrests have no impact on public safety". "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".

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.

Brooklyn's late district attorney announced a similar policy in July 2014, saying law enforcement resources could be better used elsewhere and that petty offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record for a minor offence.

"The NYPD does not target people based on race or other demographics", O'Neill said, adding that officer observations and local complaints are among the reasons for arrests.

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