New York City Mayor Announces 60% Decline in Pot Arrests
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that arrests for marijuana possession are down more than 60% since the city enacted a new policy of ticketing people caught with 25 grams or less of marijuana.
The policy, which went into effect on Nov. 19, directed NYPD officers to stop arresting people caught with 25 grams or less of marijuana. Instead of being arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, most people will be issued a ticket and a fine ranging from $100 to $250.
According to police, the number of criminal marijuana possession arrests from Nov. 19, the day the policy went into effect, to Nov. 30 fell to 306 from 789 the same time last year, a decrease of 61%, according to DNAinfo.com.
“In the two full weeks since the policy was implemented, low level marijuana arrests are down more than 60 percent,” de Blasio said. Compared to last year, criminal marijuana possession arrests are down almost 6%. This time last year, there were 26,742 such arrests; as of Nov. 30 there have been 25,247.
As many as 50,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession each year in New York City under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This number dropped to 28,000 in 2013, but the institutional racial bias persisted.
In 2013, 87% of people arrested for marijuana possession were blacks and Latinos. In June, the Drug Policy Alliance noted that in the first four months of 2014, blacks and Latinos accounted for 86% of people arrested for marijuana possession.
In his mayoral campaign, de Blasio had promised to address the “clear racial bias” of NYPD marijuana arrests, but the arrests continued for most of the year until last month when de Blasio announced the new policy.
“Too many New Yorkers without any prior convictions have been arrested for low-level marijuana possession,” de Blasio said at a Nov. 10 press conference to launch the new policy. “Black and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected. There have been, in some cases, disastrous consequences for individuals and families.”