NYPD Commissioner Blames Colorado's Legal Pot With Rise In NY Shootings

By McCarton Ackerman 03/05/15

Somehow, legal weed 1,800 miles away is causing crime in New York City.

Bill Bratton

Despite New York City being nearly 1,800 miles away from Colorado, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton made residents facepalm as he blamed a small increase in homicides throughout the city on legal pot in Colorado.

There have been 54 homicides throughout the city so far in 2015, compared with 45 at this time last year. However, murders have dropped drastically in NYC over the last three decades. Even if the current uptick holds steady, NYC would end the year with 383 murders as opposed to 2,245 murders in 1990. But Bratton didn’t see progress in the numbers and said “the seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country” will only lead to more killings.

“In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with [in the] 80s and 90s with heroin and cocaine,” he said at a news conference on Monday. "In some instances, it’s a causal factor. But it’s an influence in almost everything that we do here.”

Ironically, homicides dropped 24% in Denver last year during its first full year of legalization. Robberies declined by 3% and burglary was down by 9.5%. However, homicides did increase slightly in Seattle, from 23% to 26%.

Unfortunately for Bratton, legal recreational pot could soon be a reality in New York State. A bill was filed last month in support of it by Sen. Liz Krueger, while kosher weed for medical marijuana use is also currently under consideration.

In February 2013, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg relaxed the city’s strict marijuana policies by no longer arraigning people arrested on low-level marijuana charges. Under the new policy, many of those who get picked up for possession of negligible amounts of pot will be released with appearance tickets if they have identification and no open warrants.

Approximately 50,000 people in NYC were arrested for these charges in 2010 and 2011, many of whom were booked and remained in custody before they could face a judge, which can take upwards of 36 hours.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.