Manhattan to stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases in August

ImageMayor de Blasio promised to end racial disparity in marijuana enforcement in New York

A recent report from the Times showed that minorities in New York City were more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges.

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.

Three months ago, Brooklyn began a pilot program declining to prosecute some instances of smoking marijuana in public.

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

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, joined by civil-rights activist Al Sharpton Tuesday at a press conference at City Hall, said prosecutors should stop making pot arrests altogether. We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement. "We need an honest assessment about why they exist". "This work has yielded valuable insights into how responsibly to frame any future laws and regulations to avoid negative impacts on public safety". 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. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: "Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people". Arrests can negatively impact job opportunities, schooling and immigration status.

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The DA's office said this creates enormous costs for the legal system and alienates too many people. There are often no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent purposes in these cases, the DA said.

I'm announcing today that the NYPD will overhaul its marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days.

Vance said his office is discussing limited exceptions to the policy with Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill, "the goal of which is to radically reduce the criminal prosecution of these offenses". "We will await the results of that review", a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

Medical marijuana is legal under NY law, but can not be smoked.

Possession of up to 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana is punishable by a US$100 fine on first offence in NY, rising to US$200 second time around. I've said it before and I'll say it again: "This is not really going to end until marijuana is legalized, taxed and regulated in New York City".

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