NYC Marijuana Arrests Still Too High

The New York City Police Department made a near-record number of low-level marijuana arrests in 2011, surpassing 2010 and making 2011 the second-most prolific period for marijuana arrests in NYC history. The 50,684 arrest occurred despite the fact that possessing a small amount of marijuana is not a crime in New York unless it is in public view.

As Jen Carnig of the New York Civil Liberties Union has written before on this blog, NYPD officers have made a practice of arresting people for carrying small amounts of marijuana in their pockets or bags by ordering, tricking or forcing them into exposing it and then arresting them for having the marijuana in open sight.

It’s an unlawful practice that disproportionately targets young men of color: 86 percent of people arrested for marijuana possession in New York City are black or Latino, even though these groups make up only a quarter of the city's population, and even though government surveys consistently show that young whites use marijuana more often than young blacks and Latinos. The arrests can result in permanent criminal records; loss of student financial aid, child custody or and public housing; deportation; and other consequences.

While such unlawful arrests dropped 13 percent following a recent directive by Police Chief Raymond Kelley to end the practice, an increase in arrests in the first part of the year was more than enough to offset the decline. In Carnig’s words, “It’s too early to judge whether the 13 percent drop will be sustained, or if it is just a blip before the numbers surge again. But the marijuana arrest habit is so deeply ingrained, that it’s unlikely that a single policy directive, without additional training or changes in supervision, will force long-term change.”

Let’s hope 2012 proves fairer than 2011.

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Rory-You are driving coellmtepy free of any influence of drugs, alcohol or marijuana.You are rear ended- no fault of your own.During the accident investigation you are subject to a test of bodily fluids.A residual level indicating marijuana use (not abuse) is detected in your bodily fluids.Ditto for hitting a deer, etc.If safety on the road is an honest concern- where have traffic safety professionals, The Washington State Patrol, county prosecutors and the state legislature been on this since medical marijuana became legal here in 1998?People are free to drive under the influence of marijuana- no matter what's new on the scene Re: marijuana initiatives. I’d still rather that recreational pot be legal-Me too. Marijuana should be just as legal as a glass of wine.


Big brother was out in full force last night at Madison square Garden's Phish concert. Selling a ticket, standing outside the building or just pulling into one of the nearby parking lots warranted a stop and frisk. At least 50 maybe 100 people were nabbed on the street, cuffed, booked and arrested for small amounts of pot, vending illegally or for having open alcohol containers(some had more but the majority of offences were minor). There was an entire squad of at least 50 undercover and uniformed police officers looking to make as many arrests as possible filling up van after van until the holding cells were too full to bring in anymore prisoners. I was arrested for having about a gram on me. Never been arrested in my life had two speeding tickets in the 90's but luckily nyc's finest removed me from the street. Sorry for the rant but I am from Maryland close to DC and in either of those jurisdictions I would one have not had my rights violated like that( I was searched because I was on msg grounds and "fidgeting in my pockets" as the officer put it. He felt my pockets and because he felt a suspicious item, a plastic bag he emptied my pockets) and two might have had to pay a fine not spend 4 hours in jail.

Now I am facing a possible misdemeanor over slightly over a gram of pot. I visit new York several times a year to visit family and spend thousands of dollars here. The only time I plan to return is for my court date. What a backward city.*

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