N.Y. City Council Members: End Marijuana Arrest Crusade


Graphic: New York Magazine
The Big Apple is King of the World for marijuana arrests

​City Council Resolution Highlights Illegal Searches, Targeting of Youth of Color, and $75 Million Wasted

On Wednesday, August 17, at 10 a.m., a group of New York City Council members will introduce a resolution calling for an end to the racially biased, costly marijuana arrest crusade in New York City.

The resolution calls on the state Legislature to pass S.5187/A.7620, a bipartisan proposal to fix the law.
More than 50,000 marijuana possession arrests were made in New York City in 2010, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), despite marijuana possession being decriminalized in the state of New York back in 1977.

These arrests display an extreme racial bias: 86 percent of those arrest are black and Latino despite whites using marijuana at higher rates.

Photo: Death By 1000 Papercuts
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he enjoyed smoking marijuana. He must also enjoy busting people for it, since his city is the world capital for pot busts.

​More than 70 percent of those arrested are between 16 and 29 years old, mostly black and Latino men, showing that youth of color, especially males, are targeted.
The NYPD is illegally searching people or “tricking” people to show the marijuana in their pockets so they can then arrest them for “public possession.”
An incredibly wasteful $75 million a year is being spent on these marijuana arrests, while essential social services are being cut or eliminated.
The resolution comes on the heels of Mayor Michael Bloomberg launching a $130 million initiative to assist black and Latino young men, especially around issues of criminal justice involvement. The mayor is contributing more than $30 million of his own money to this endeavor.
Meanwhile, NYPD continues to arrest tens of thousands of black and Latino young men every year for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The arrests are too often the result of illegal searches, and the charges are often false.
Since Mayor Bloomberg came into office in 2002, 350,000 people have been arrested for low-level cannabis offenses in New York City. This is despite the fact that Bloomberg, when asked if he’d ever tried marijuana in his youth, responded, “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.
“New York has made more marijuana arrests under Bloomberg than any mayor in New York history,” said Dr. Harry Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College and the nation’s leading expert on marijuana arrests.
“Bloomberg’s police have arrested more people for marijuana than Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani combined,” Dr. Levine said.
The mayor could take a dramatic step towards helping black and Latino young men, according to DPA, by simply ending the illegal, racially biased and costly marijuana arrest crusade.