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NYC Pot Arrests Remain the Same Under de Blasio

So much for Mayor Bill de Blasio's promise to fix New York's "unjust and wrong" marijuana enforcement.

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Change? Not so much. Shutterstock

By Victoria Kim

06/19/14

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It seems New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to make good on his promise to address the “clear racial bias” of NYPD marijuana arrests. It’s been four months since de Blasio assumed office and not much has changed, according to a report released by the Drug Policy Alliance.

In 2013, 87% of people arrested for marijuana possession were blacks and Latinos. In the first four months of 2014, blacks and Latinos were 86% of the people arrested.

In his mayoral campaign, de Blasio criticized the city’s “unjust and wrong” policy of low-level marijuana enforcement. “Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families," he said. "These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession.”

Though still early in de Blasio’s term, it’s uncertain when or even if reform will happen under his administration. The mayor’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, was involved in the inception of stop-and-frisk in New York when he led the department under Rudy Giuliani.

Since de Blasio took office, NYPD marijuana possession arrests remain concentrated in neighborhoods where most residents are blacks and Latinos. For example, in Manhattan, police made a total of eight possession arrests in the Upper East Side, but made 500 possession arrests in East New York, Brooklyn.

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