Citing evidence of racial disparities in enforcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the NYPD will overhaul its marijuana enforcement procedures.
Also Wednesday, the top prosecutor for Manhattan said his office will stop prosecuting many small marijuana possession cases.
Critics of the New York police have noted that 86 percent of arrests for smoking marijuana are of black and Latino people.
de Blasio said the NYPD would change its policies related to making possession and smoking in public arrests in the next 30 days, during a speech Wednesday at the Center for American Progress’ 2018 Ideas Conference, though he didn’t go into details.
“We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement,” de Blasio said. “It’s time for those to be a thing of the past in New York City and all over this country.”
Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced he will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases starting Aug. 1. The change would cut pot prosecutions in Manhattan from 5,000 a year to about 200.
“The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.’s Office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system,” Vance said. “The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals. Effective August 1st, my Office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases. We are in discussions with the Mayor and Police Commissioner to consider limited exceptions to this policy, the goal of which is to radically reduce the criminal prosecution of these offenses.”
In New York City, we’ve proven you can radically reduce arrests while also reducing crime. But we must go further and get fairer, particularly when it comes to disparity in arrests. pic.twitter.com/4UGRUf9fZZ
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 15, 2018