New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has given the Police Department 30 days to come up with a plan to end “unnecessary arrests” for cannabis, and city officials – including prosecutors – are working on broad plans to reform how to handle low-level cannabis crimes, the New York Times reports. However, the changes will likely create a patchwork of laws throughout the five boroughs and won’t put an end to stop-and-frisk policies that usually lead to cannabis possession tickets or arrests.
Two NYC district attorneys have already laid out their plans: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said his office will stop prosecuting cannabis possession and smoking arrests this summer; he gave the NYPD the same deadline to make their pitch for still charging some people for those low-level crimes.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez indicated they had thrown out twice the number of cannabis-smoking cases over the last three months and plan to stop prosecuting even more of them.
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill has conceded that at least some of the cannabis-related arrests “have no impact on public safety.” He plans on convening a working group to review cannabis-enforcement tactics.
A New York Times investigation published on Sunday found that black people were arrested for low-level cannabis charges at eight times the rate of their white counterparts over the last three years. Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. The investigation found that police also made more arrests in black neighborhoods when people called them for cannabis-smoking complaints.