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New York City to stop arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses

New York City to stop arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses

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 objective".

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office would work with the police and the mayor's office to pinpoint the "the very small number" of marijuana-possession cases that should be prosecuted because of public safety concerns. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals".

Data from the NYPD released in February revealed that 86 percent of people arrested for low-level marijuana possession in 2017 were black or Hispanic, despite being no more likely to smoke pot, while only 9 percent of those arrested were white.

Gonzalez said Brooklyn started declining to prosecute some instances of smoking marijuana in public when a nuisance was not created as part of a pilot program created three months ago.

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.

Hizzoner and the NYPD have taken a torrent of criticism over pot arrests targeting blacks and Latinos - most recently from Rev. Al Sharpton and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who held a City Hall press conference to blast the department Tuesday.

"The NYPD will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement within the next 30 days", he said.

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.

At an event in Washington, D.C., de Blasio announced the NYPD will change how it enforces marijuana laws. That brought down the number of arrests significantly, but the racial gap persisted.

The report found that law enforcement targets black and Hispanics at higher rates for low-level marijuana offenses than whites.

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".

In his speech Tuesday, de Blasio promised changes were coming. But at this point, in New York State, it is still illegal.

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

Many people think that "it's just a little weed" when it comes to marijuana possession and use.

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