Marijuana possession arrests in New York City are up sharply in the first three months of 2016 – more than 30 percent, according to a report by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. An astounding 5,311 people were arrested for possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana from January to March, up from 3,973 during that same period a year ago.
The uptick comes two years after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that officers would issue a summons instead of arresting people in possession of 25 grams or less. The policy changes reduced the number of misdemeanor pot arrests by 56 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Edwin Raymond, an eight-year NYPD veteran, says the spike is due to the NYPD losing a revenue stream after the Stop-and-Frisk program was discontinued. Raymond is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit against the department centered around quota-based policing and cops being used to “generate revenue.”
“Say they want five arrests a month from every officer. They’ll keep pressuring you until you get that,” he said in a Village Voice report. “Marijuana becomes the easiest arrest because everybody smokes weed — across ethnicities and racial lines. It’s a minor infraction, it’s the low-hanging fruit.”
A misdemeanor cannabis arrest is worth between $1,500 and $2,000 after penalties, covering police, court and pre-arraignment jail costs.
New York Police Chief Bill Bratton has rallied against marijuana legalization throughout his tenure with the department, most recently attributing “most” of the drug violence in the city to the marijuana trade.