New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered that police not arrest individuals with no prior criminal record who are found smoking marijuana in public. Instead, such people will face criminal summonses. Those who have been convicted of a violent offense in the past three years can still be arrested for smoking marijuana in public.
The mayor said the new policy, which will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2018, will balance fairness with public safety and quality of life concerns. It is estimated that it will lead to 10,000 less marijuana arrests per year throughout the five boroughs. The change also follows the city’s goal of reducing incarceration rates. The jail population is already down 20% in New York City, according to de Blasio.
Statistics have shown that 86% of marijuana arrests in NYC are people of color, despite studies showing whites, blacks, and Latinos use the substance at equal rates.
The new policy, announced in June 2018, follows comments made by the mayor a month earlier stating he wanted to stop arresting people for smoking marijuana. A 30-Day Marijuana Working Group, initiated by the mayor and conducted by NYPD, found that most New Yorkers saw public marijuana smoking as a “nuisance.” Despite this, most favored summons over arrests. New Yorkers made 52,000 complaints about people smoking marijuana in 2017.
Summonses are not finger-printable offenses. Those convicted can be fined up to $100. New York City is working to address how those with prior marijuana-related records will be affected by this and if and how those records can be expunged.
Recreational marijuana use continues to grow, along with support for its legality. Even in the nine states where it is legal, it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public. New York is among 20 states that only allows medical marijuana. A study commissioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to recommend that the state allow adults here to consume marijuana legally.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for smoking marijuana in public, possession of marijuana, or any other non-violent drug offense in New York or New Jersey, you urgently need the aid of an attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.