New York, NY: City police made over 50,000 arrests in 2010 for the crime of marijuana possession in public, according to statistics from the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services and analyzed by Queens College sociologist Harry Levine.
New York city police made 50,383 lowest level marijuana possession arrests [NY State Penal Law 221.10] involving cases where marijuana was either used or possessed in public. The total is the second highest in the city’s history and is an increase of over 5,000 percent from 1990, when police reported fewer than 1,000 low-level pot arrests.
Marijuana offenses now comprise 15 percent of all arrests made in New York City.
According to a press release published by the Drug Policy Alliance, “Almost 70 percent of those arrested [were] younger than 30 years old. Eighty-six percent of those arrested [were] Black or Latino, even though research consistently shows that young whites use marijuana at higher rates.”
Since New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, city police have made 350,000 arrests for low-level marijuana offenses.
Although simple marijuana possession is a violation and not a crime in New York State, if the marijuana is “open to public view” it can be charged as a misdemeanor.
A 2008 study released by the New York Civil Liberties Union estimated that marijuana arrests in New York City cost taxpayers between $50 million and $90 million annually.
For more information, please contact NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre at (202) 483-5500, or visit: http://www.drugpolicy.org.