Manhattan DA To Stop Prosecuting Pot Possession


Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance released a separate statement announcing that his office will "decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases" starting August 1st.

The Manhattan district attorney's office, which previous year chose to lighten penalties for some marijuana offenders, would decline to prosecute all but several hundred low-level marijuana cases annually under the plan, with some exceptions for people with serious criminal histories, a second official said.

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. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals".

The findings follow an article published Sunday at the New York Times that found that over a period of three years, black people in New York were eight times more likely to face arrest for low-level marijuana charges.

The Times also debunked the NYPD explanation for the disparities, which the police attribute to more 311 and 911 complaints in certain neighborhoods.

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. "It's time for those to be a thing of the past in New York City and all over this country".

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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. The shift was one of a number announced by public officials Tuesday, signaling a substantial softening of marijuana enforcement across the city. They support making pot legal, but say the city should act before that happens.

The policy changes came as Mayor Bill de Blasio also pledged to change the way the police department approaches marijuana enforcement. "The number of arrests in that precinct, the 76th Precinct, were 246 arrests". He said minor arrests and charges for marijuana have no social benefit but are more of a social harm.

In his speech Tuesday, de Blasio promised changes were coming.

Acknowledging racial disparities, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said, "We need an honest assessment about why they exist.The NYPD has no interest in arresting New Yorkers for marijuana offenses when those arrests have no impact on public safety". But at this point, in New York State, it is still illegal. 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.

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

On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned a study on legalization earlier this year.