New York City Officials Announce Plan To Halt Minor Marijuana Arrests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton publicly announced plans yesterday to halt the NYPD’s practice of arresting tens of thousands of minor marijuana offenders annually.

Under the new plan, set to take effect November 19, city police would issue first-time marijuana offenders a summons, payable by a fine, in lieu of making a criminal arrest.

Though the Mayor and the Police Commissioner have made pledges in the past to reduce the city’s marijuana arrest totals, which average nearly 30,000 per year, they have previously failed to do so. Of those arrested for minor marijuana offenses in New York City, a disproportionate percentage (86 percent) are either Black or Latino. Nearly three out of four arrested possessed no prior criminal record.

Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is ‘open to public view’ as an arrestable offense.

Mayor de Blasio called the City’s proposed depenalization policy “a smart policy that keeps New Yorkers safe, but it is also a more fair policy.”

26 thoughts

  1. You gotta keep the public “safe” from those pot heads! LOL, is this really 2014?! C’mon New York!

  2. F*** mayor de blasio, and F*** governor cuomo, they are inconsiderate assholes who only want the city and state to look like what they comprehend in their bias ass minds. Without even considering what the people want. Half of the f***in citizens in ny didn’t even wanna vote for him. It’s only because he’s the only f***in democratic candidate out there.

  3. Oh thank God! Right before my spring trip to the Big City! Oh yeah… (And the millions of black and latino New Yorkers who have been disproportionately incarcerated over the last 45 years… Im sure they’ll appreciate this too). 🙂

    What took you so long DeBlasio? I mean besides the military-drug-industrial-complex? :-/

  4. I really believe that this is an issue that the people of nyc and my state have to vote on. I really believe there is a lot of bias in the government officials decision to maintain the current policy’s. For too long have the city and state of my have been controlled by bias government office and we had no choice. Let the people decide if herb should be legals and not the people who only want the world to look like they want it

    [Paul Armentano responds: New York state does not possess a voter initiative process; thus, all changes must take place legislatively.]

  5. AJ Anslinger testified “The main reason for making marijuana illegal was its effect on the degenerate races…When a darkie smokes marijuana he thinks he’s just as good as a white man.”

    a disproportionate percentage (86 percent) are either Black or Latino.

    But we’re told it’s not racist.

    This is as Orwellian as the 1984 slogans:
    War is peace.
    Freedom is slavery.
    Ignorance is strength.

  6. I feel so very sorry for the people and patients of New York. What a cowardly bunch of narrow-minded criminals the local government is. It is clear to most that Cannabis is going to be legalized. The Mayor and the Police Commissioner and every other likeminded fool that continues to stick their heads in the sand are doing an incredible injustice to the people that will never be forgotten. This mayor and all that follow him should be kicked to the curb.

  7. If you miss the court date in the summons they issue a warrant for your arrest. Once you appear in court, and get off with just a fine that does not guarantee you won’t lose your license (driver’s or license for your profession). The court cases are available online these days.

    This change is not going to stop the problem of police going after the low-hanging fruit that is the cannabis consumer.

    IMHO DeBlasio is still a case of that old Who song about the new boss being the same as the old boss, and shit, we got fooled again.

    A policy going along with this of not being able to spend any public time or money or actually processing the paperwork so that no court dates are set and consequently no summons can be issued. This leaves it up to the honor system for people to pay their fines, and I’m sure the city government wants that money.

    If not that way, then if the fine is paid within in so many days, a court date will NOT be set and subsequently a summons will NOT be issued. Then employers and the prohibitionists will NOT find you in the public records for it.

    Did I mention Nathan Edelmann is hot!

  8. Come to Idaho and lawmakers are saying; that’s ok for New York but wrong for Idaho. We are still getting busted here.

  9. It would seem to me that this action being taken by the Mayor of NYC would be received as a positive step to a more sensible marijuana possession policy in the city. But after reading through the comments, I’m left to wonder, am I missing something here?

  10. Who Dat,

    The reason is because this already is the law. The police are illegally arresting people and have been for 37 going on 38 years! New York has had decriminalized marijuana since 1977!

    But New York City Police are better than everyone else and they don’t have to follow the law. Now, it is a supposed to be a “good thing” they are requiring the police to follow the law!?!?!?!? What is the point of having a law, if following it is optional???

    The police need to pay out of their own pockets to reverse all those illegal arrests and now false arrest records for something that wasn’t illegal! That will actually be doing something good toward fixing the future.

    Just imagine you are in court trying to explain to the judge why it has taken you 37 fucking years to start following to law… You’re not going to have a sympathetic audience.

  11. To make thousands of arrests for possession of cannabis while making very few for possession of tobacco $igarettes amounts to an overt policy of steering thousands of children who have a social (or let us agree sociopathic) need to be seen smoking something, away from cannabis and toward the (legalisticly) “safer” alternative, Nicotine $igarettes.

    Yes we know many Government programs and the Departments and salaried bureaucrats who Administer them depend on $igarette taxe$ to survive the cut; politicians both Rep and Dem (but more Rep) depend on Tobacco Dark Money to win re-election campaigns.

    Challenge Mayors, Governors and Presidents to live up to promises to reduce tobacco pathology (2014 Surgeon General estimate of yearly US national economic cost: $289-Bil) by broadening the definition of “medical cannabis”: eliminating nicotine overdo$e $lavery is the single most important medical imperative of the 21st Century (200,000,000 deaths since 1853)– and maybe more Cannabis can do it.

  12. @ who dat,

    Aside from what Dave Evans wrote, the other reason for the negativity is because that is what too often happens on these message boards: some people just cannot let go of their partisanship.

    I’m as partisan as anyone else, however, you’ll never see me attacking a GOPer for helping our cause, tho I otherwise have little use for GOPers.

  13. New York will be the last state to do anything positive regarding cannabis.
    To claim that it has a medical marijuana program is a big joke.
    The initiative is built to fail. NY doesn’t have leaders willing to lead, only
    King Cuckold Cuomo has the power & desire to abuse it. Shame on NY electing this tool for another term.

  14. Thank you, Woody Harrelson!

    Thank you for ridiculing Mayor DeBlasio’s policy change for the miniscule hair-splitting change that it really is. It’s nothing for the NYC cannabis community to celebrate because they can’t smoke it or vape it in public. The Saturday Nite Lame skit showed someone in a smoke-filled car slamming into a pole and a guy wanting to light up a joint in front of the cops, humorous hyperbole, as responsible cannabis use does NOT involve smoking while driving/driving while stoned and does NOT involve being able to smoke out on the street inasmuch as one can NOT have an alcoholic beverage walking down the street. There’s an argument for brown paper-bagging the bottle as way around it, but the deeper message is that you can’t be out on your porch or balcony or in your backyard or wherever visible to the public although on your own private property and toke. It’s not like a cigarette. Tobacco smoking is widely banned in The Big Apple, and I would expect the same for cannabis except for cannabis bars. Cigar bars allow smoking so a cannabis bar should also be exempt from the ban.

    High profile politicians are still hellbent on maintaining cannabis prohibition. The governor of Massachusetts is against legal adult recreational, but then so was Hickenlooper, as I recall. Nevertheless, he implemented to will of the people of Colorado, so if Massachusetts has some kind of ballot initiative and legalizes you would have your first state on the East Coast to ca$h in on a long-overdue freedom.

    Vermont ha$ been in the new$ for po$$ibly legalizing adult recreational, and Rhode I$land u$ed to be in the new$ for it. They might a$ well ca$h in on the Green Ru$h while they can because once their $urrounding $tate$ $tart ca$hing in on cannabi$ too their market$ will become over$aturated becau$e the out-of-$tater$ will be able to get legal cannabi$ in their own $tate$.

    I just read in the Huffington Post how public schools in Colorado are getting back their school nurses and guidance counselors and staff they had to furlough or fire, and I also recently read an article that Pennsylvania is being sued by a bunch of school districts for improperly funding public education. For example, Philadelphia schools, amongst some others, needs to hire back school nurses and counselors. All city schools are hurting this way in the state. I am hoping that Mike Folmer (Republican)get persuade more Republicans, maybe have Rohrabacher and others come and re-educate them away from prohibitionist lies so that Pennsylvania can legalize cannabis. It does not have the ballot initiative, and as journalist John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News put its Pennsylvania is a state that loves the status quo. Pols need to realize that the NEW status quo included legal cannabis, both legal MMJ and legal adult recreational Mason Tvert style: Regulate and Educate.

  15. A tax should not be disguised as a “fine”.

    What happens when the “civil offender” fails to pay the civil fine?…straight back to criminal court!

    This utterly entangled Gordian Knot will only be severed by ending cannabis Prohibition…which means de-scheduling this beneficial herb.

    Cannabis needs to be regulated exactly as rosemary and thyme.

  16. Thanks @Eric for suggestion “regulate exactly as rosemary and thyme”, add alfalfa, basil, chamomile, damiana, eucalyptus, fo-ti-tieng, ginseng leaf, hops flower, iris, jasmine, kinnickinnick (uva ursi), OREGANO, peppermint and 616 others all cheap and legal. Screenhandgrindsift herb to consistent #16 (regular vapetoke) and #32 (kief) particle sizes.

    Regulation occurs by means of the 25-mg-serving-size single toke universal utensil (flexdrawtube einzelhiffer) which prevents “public smoking” by (a) substituting vape for smoke (combustion), (b) allowing no “sidestream” to escape, no exotic substances enter common air except pre-filtered by user lungs.

  17. @ Weed the People,

    With due respect, I can’t agree with you about New York. I understand your cynicism, but I believe some of the deep red states will take longer to legalize–you know, like Oklahoma, Kansas, the Dakotas, and various of the states ‘neath the Mason-Dixon. I even wonder about Penna. sometimes.

  18. Mexweed is right about New York and the same logic can be applied to New Jersey. We don’t do anything unless corruption officials, oh I mean corrupt officials have to get paid in order for anything to happen. In New Jersey and New York, we never get to see support for good bill or ideas. They just get shit upon by our Democrats and Rebubs. Only in the last two elections cycles have we even gotten more than a handful of “leaders” that actually give more than half a crap about their own state. Normally, we vote for shitheads like Christie–only liars get votes here. Hillary Clinton, a weirdo liar, will win by a land side. Just look at Christie, a weirdo liar, but perfect for Jersey voters. Jim Mcgreevey, weirdo liar, but perfect for Jersey voters. Como, a strange lying idiot, perfect for New York voters. We love weirdo liars here in New York/Jersey.

  19. In 1986, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, had a problem. He was under growing pressure from shareholders — and his wife, Helen — to appoint a woman to the company’s 15-member board of directors.

    So Mr. Walton turned to a young lawyer who just happened to be married to the governor of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is based: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Mrs. Clinton’s six-year tenure as a director of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest company, remains a little known chapter in her closely scrutinized career. And it is little known for a reason. Mrs. Clinton rarely, if ever, discusses it, leaving her board membership out of her speeches and off her campaign Web site.

    Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business. On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said.

  20. This is the way it was supposed to be, since 1978. If a person is in possesion of 25 grams or less they are supposed to have been issued
    a summons, provided they have the proper ID and they come back clean on a warrant. If they were not smoking it in public, they WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ARRESTED. Since the NYS legislature passed this law in 1978, hundreds of thousands of people in NY state have been illegally arrested and given criminal records. Shame on all the governors, mayors, police brass and cops that participated in this horrible illegal scam since then. They are nothing but cowards, especially our ex-megalomaniac mayor Bloomberg who has admitted to smoking and enjoying it, at times in his life. And while it was always smthng that should have been, I commend governor Cuomo, mayor DeBlasio, and commisioner Bratton. Now lets just see if the cops continue to break the law or follow it, as they always should have!!

  21. The Federal Government has let tobacco stand and ignore cannabis. As a result my sister is dying of cancer. She like others are too afraid to loose their children to the cannabis laws. So as a result she smoked cigarettes. She couldn’t quit cigarettes because she couldn’t smoke enough cannabis to do it. Cannabis helps tobacco smokers quit cigarettes. Go figure.

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