New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department announced on Tuesday that the city will begin ticketing, not arresting, people who are caught consuming cannabis in public, according to an NY1 report. This policy change comes just one month after the Mayor directed police to stop making the arrests.
“No one should be smoking marijuana in public. It’s illegal. Period. Is it happening every day? Yes. So we are trying to deal with it in the most productive, fair way.” — Mayor Bill de Blasio, via NY1.
The city’s relaxed enforcement of public consumption should take effect September 1st. For most offenses, officers will issue summonses requiring a later court appearance, during which the defendant can choose their plea and a judge can assign the appropriate fines.
The NYPD will still arrest smokers who are on parole, on probation, without identification or who have an open warrant or violent criminal history. Smokers caught behind the wheel will also be arrested.
De Blasio estimated this new enforcement policy will result in 10,000 fewer arrests per year. De Blasio said the reasoning behind the change of enforcement was to address the deep racial disparity in cannabis arrests. In May, the New York Times ran a story showing that black people in New York City were eight times more likely to be arrested for simple cannabis possession.