New York Mayor de Blasio made a lot of promises in regards to marijuana enforcement while he was campaigning. Sadly, the promises up to this point have proven to be nothing more than campaign rhetoric. Per an earlier article from the Drug Policy Alliance:
A new report released today by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance shows that, despite campaign promises, marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio are on track to equal – or even surpass – the number of arrests under Mayor Bloomberg. As under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations, these arrests are marked by shockingly high racial disparities. The report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s Two New Yorks: the NYPD’s Marijuana Arrest Crusade Continues in 2014 draws on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and shows that despite a change in mayoral administrations and police commissioners, the NYPD continues its practice of making wasteful, racially biased, and costly marijuana arrests.
The report includes extensive analysis of marijuana arrest and income data, showing that overall, low income and middle class communities of color face dramatically higher rates of marijuana possession arrests than do white communities of every class bracket. Most of those arrested are young men of color, even though young white men use marijuana at higher rates. Nearly 75% of the people arrested for marijuana possession in 2014 have never been convicted of even a single misdemeanor, and only 11% have a misdemeanor conviction.
It appears that there has been some movement however, as NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has stated that the NYPD will stop arresting some people for minor marijuana possession. Per NBC:
Many New Yorkers facing low-level marijuana charges will soon be issued summonses instead of being taken to precinct houses in handcuffs, department brass said Monday.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the official change to the city’s marijuana policy will be issued Tuesday and will take effect Nov. 19. Under the policy change, people caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana on them “may be eligible” to receive a summons in lieu of being arrested.
For the sake of logic, compassion, and efficiency I hope that this reform is meaningful. I don’t like that the NYPD keeps using words like ‘may be eligible’ because it could lead to some officers doing it, and others not, but this is a significant step at fixing the enormous problems that surround marijuana enforcement in New York City. Whether or not arrests will continue, only time will tell.