On the heels of speculation swirling Sunday that New York would end the prosecution and arrest of individuals for low-level marijuana possession, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that possession of 25g or less of cannabis would no longer be an arrestable offense. The change to the city’s policy will be issued Tuesday and will come into effect on November 19th — so be cool for a few days people!
As the New York Times reported, the NYPD has been arresting tens of thousands of people each year for low-level marijuana possession. Now, instead of getting thrown in the slammer, you will reportedly be issued a summons and get a ticket for $100. (Though beware, individuals caught “smoking or burning” pot are still subject to immediate arrest under the new policy.)
City officials said they are interested in shifting the time and energy spent currently on low-level marijuana offenses to more serious crimes. This surely has to be the biggest accomplishment of the de Blasio administration to date and falls in line with the efforts of 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.
A clearer picture of the specifics will emerge this week as Mayor de Blasio takes his first meeting with all 5 district attorneys since taking office.
“Let’s be real about this,” Police Commissioner Bratton began before he laid out the change in policy for the media — and surprisingly, for once, he was legitimately, somewhat keeping it real in respect to marijuana.
This historic shift represents a step closer to wider legalization in the state of New York. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.