Manhattan District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute Minor Marijuana Cases

Cy Vance’s reefer madness

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the police department will overhaul its citywide marijuana-arrest policies within the next 30 days.

Starting Aug. 1, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Tuesday his office would decline to prosecute people arrested for smoking or possessing small amounts of marijuana.

In an attempt to end inequality in the justice system, Manhattan's district attorney has vowed to stop prosecuting minor marijuana cases. The report said the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana.

Marijuana is illegal in NY state except for medical use on a strictly regulated basis, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled last month that the time might be right to consider loosening statewide restrictions. The Drug Policy Alliance & Marijuana Arrest Research Project published findings that relayed a startling number of marijuana arrest in the city, all taking up far too much space and energy in the crowded system.

Tuesday's announcements suggest that NY ― a state now exploring the possibility of legalizing marijuana altogether, as other states have ― is starting to more forcefully tackle the disproportionate rates at which black people get arrested for marijuana, even though black and white people use marijuana at nearly the same rates, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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Although Manhattan will be ending the majority of its prosecutions, it is requesting the city to present limited exceptions with regard to public safety for prosecution.

"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", Vance said. The mayor was not specific on details of the plan.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the department was putting together a working group to review the policy. "We need an honest assessment about why they exist, and balance it in the context of the public safety needs of all communities".

Johnson is calling on the NYPD to issue summonses instead of making arrests when someone is caught smoking pot in public.

Red Hook in Brooklyn had 88 calls to 311 and 911, but 246 arrests.

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"The grandchild of stop and frisk is marijuana arrests based on race", Sharpton said. "Ultimately, the best way to address the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to create a system to tax and regulate marijuana that will reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by the marijuana arrest crusade", Frederique continued.

The state Democratic Party expected to formally back legalization, and Gov. Cuomo, who has opposed it, said moves by surrounding states to legalize have changed the equation. However, these days it's becoming legal in some states. Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon made the same argument, saying it would be a form of "reparations" - comments criticized by Sharpton and other black leaders.

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