The recent elections were certainly supportive of marijuana legalization, and it definitely got a strong foothold in New York City. There was speculation that NYC would stop arresting people for low-level marijuana possession, and the rumors have turned out to be true – sort of.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that possession of 25 grams or less of cannabis would no longer be an arrestable offense. Actually, more specifically, people caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana on them “may be eligible” to receive a $100 summons in lieu of being arrested. Nevertheless, this change to the city’s policy is a huge step toward national legalization of a plant that can treat numerous diseases and support new business in cities failing to support themselves via other revenue streams.
The change to the city’s policy came into effect November 19th.
This is also an enormous positive change away from the destructive habit of law enforcement to spend billions arresting people each year, incarcerating them, and then trying them for doing nothing more than carrying a harmless plant.
People are still not allowed to burn their marijuana in public, as this would result in immediate arrest, but now, if you are caught with more than 25 grams of marijuana you will be issued a summons and get a ticket for $100.
City officials explained that they want to shift the time and energy spent currently on low-level marijuana offenses to more serious crimes.
This is likely the result of the work of a Brooklyn DA, Kenneth Thompson who declared in July that he had no intention of prosecuting such marijuana “crimes.”
“This should free up police manpower to pursue cases of greater magnitude while relieving some of the congestion in the courts,” Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan explained.
“Let’s be real about this,” Police Commissioner Bratton said before he explained the change in policy to the media.
As marijuana arrests in NYC become more lenient, and the acceptance of cannabis possession frees up resources for other pursuits for law-enforcement personnel, hopefully the state of New York will follow with its own laws accepting cannabis.