Bowing to community pressure and anger from the City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday a month-long review of how the NYPD handles marijuana-arrest procedures. "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. "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".
But Stringer was quick to say in his report that legalizing adult-use of marijuana was about more than raking in a ton of cash; in fact, it aligns with Vance's decision to stop prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking cases in Manhattan.
It is part of a wider effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NY police department to review how law enforcement deals with low-level marijuana crime.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of few NY politicians who has opposed marijuana legalization, promised to relax police enforcement after facing increasing pressure to address racial disparities in pot arrests.
Possession of up to 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana is punishable by a US$100 fine on the first offence in NY, rising to US$200 second time around.
The District Attorney's Office has invited the City of NY to recommend limited exceptions to this policy grounded in demonstrated public safety concerns before the policy becomes effective in August. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals". Police now issue summonses when someone is found with marijuana instead of making arrests.
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"I am disappointed that there is racial disparity in arrests, as I have been and was in the leadership on stop-and-frisk, and I want to see it corrected", Sharpton said, responding to a reporter's question about de Blasio's attitude toward the issue.
Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years. When people are being forced to miss work and miss out on time with their family over a low-level marijuana arrest, something is very wrong with our public policy.
"This is not what our city is about", Johnson added. As a result, large numbers of New Yorkers become further alienated from law enforcement and removed from community participation at an enormous cost to the criminal justice system, for virtually no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent goal. "There is a clear racial pattern, as it was in stop and frisk".
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"If you go to the street, most drug addicts, they started with marijuana", said Diaz, a Democratic council member from the Bronx.