Manhattan to stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases in August

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

The late Reggae legend Peter Tosh, from the cover of his 1976 album "Legalize It". Some prosecutors' offices also announced changes, including the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which won't prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases as of August. "NYPD is funneling tens of thousands of New Yorkers into the maze of the criminal justice system every year and putting people at risk of deportation, losing custody of their children, and barring them from employment and housing - all for nothing more than a small amount of marijuana". Under one analysis by the D.A.'s Office, the policy is expected to reduce Manhattan marijuana prosecutions from approximately 5,000 per year to approximately 200 per year, a 96% reduction.

"The dual mission of the Manhattan DA's Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", Vance said.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, joined by civil-rights activist Al Sharpton Tuesday at a press conference at City Hall, said prosecutors should stop making pot arrests altogether.

Three months ago, Brooklyn began a pilot program declining to prosecute some instances of smoking marijuana in public.

The NYPD's current marijuana enforcement policy is going up in smoke.

DA Vance's announcement comes on the heels of a report released earlier Tuesday by city Comptroller Scott Stringer, which estimates that the adult market for legal marijuana in NY state could be $3.1 billion, including approximately $1.1 billion from city usage alone.

De Blasio, who has traveled the USA saying he wants to influence national policy debate, for months has resisting calls to decriminalize marijuana. Our goal was to understand the challenges that will need to be anticipated by lawmakers in our state.

On Monday, Council Member Donovan Richards, the public safety committee chairman, pressed NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill on the topic. The D.A.'s Office "stand [s] ready to advise and assist any participant in the important ongoing discussions about legislative reform of our state's marijuana laws".

Blacks and Hispanics are arrested for marijuana at much higher rates than those in predominantly white communities. Yet, sanctions imposed after arrest, fingerprinting, and court appearances are nearly always minimal or non-existent.

The DA's office said this creates enormous costs for the legal system and alienates too many people.

"We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement", he added. The NYPD does this in cases where possession is the most serious charge a person would face, O'Neill said. If these individuals remain arrest-free for the duration of these periods, their cases are dismissed and records are sealed.