Mayor De Blasio Lauded For New Policy To Reduce Marijuana Arrests

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De Blasio takes progressive approach to marijuana

Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has announced that effective November 19, if police find someone in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana, officers will issue a summons instead of effecting an arrest, so long as there is no warrant for the individual’s arrest and the person has identification.

Police will be authorized to make arrests if the marijuana is burning, if the type of possession indicates intent to sell, if the individual has an outstanding warrant, or if the individual is in a location with special consideration, like a school.

Civil rights leaders and elected officials reacted to the announcement today.

“I support the announcement by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding marijuana offense policies that will go in to effect on November 19, 2014.  In light of the fact that there have been a disproportionate amount of Blacks and Browns subjected to low level marijuana arrests, as well as the fact that many cities around the country are legalizing marijuana use, it is timely for the City of New York to revise its policies," said Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network. "I supported Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson when he took such a position, and I am glad to now see Mayor de Blasio take a position that will decrease the circumstances that has bogged down the criminal justice and court systems in New York City. With excessive gun violence, hard drug trafficking, and other criminal ills that have plagued our community, I feel that the police ought to concentrate on things of importance rather than things that are now being legalized in many places around the country.”

“I applaud the Mayor’s decision to no longer arrest first-time offenders or individuals found in possession of small amounts of marijuana Citywide, similar to the approach that I have taken in Brooklyn," said Ken Thompson, King's County (Brooklyn) District Attorney. "I also agree with Police Commissioner Bratton that we must put in place certain safeguards to ensure that this new policy is not carried out in a discriminatory manner. However, I am concerned about the due process rights of those who are given marijuana summonses, which for Brooklyn, will be addressed at a location in Manhattan that is already overburdened.”

“The Mayor’s decision today is a big deal to undo a glaring injustice. It is an important acknowledgement that you shouldn’t be able to predict who will be charged with a crime based on race and ethnicity,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “Today also shows the need to change state law to ensure fairness. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton for this bold step.”

“More than two years ago, I supported a change in state law that would make possession of a small amount of marijuana, even if in public view, a violation, rather than a misdemeanor," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. "I still support a change in legislation. Short of that, this policy—by diverting thousands of cases from criminal court—will also keep low-level offenders, particularly teens, from an arrest and all its attendant consequences, including a night or more in jail. I would like to commend Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton for this initiative, which will enhance fairness without sacrificing public safety, and is simply the right thing to do.” 



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