New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the New York Police Department will be reforming their cannabis enforcement policies saying that "we must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement." As of this summer, they will cease prosecution for cannabis smoking and possession.
The news come shortly after a New York Times study was published that showed how there continue to be massive racial discrepancies in cannabis arrest rates in New York. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. says he will stop prosecuting possession and smoking arrests this summer, though he has stated would listen to proposed "limited exceptions to this policy grounded in demonstrated public safety concerns."
Still, Vance argued that these arrests are an unnecessary hit to to city resources which continue to divide people down racial lines.
"These arrests waste an enormous amount of criminal justice resources for no punitive, rehabilitative, deterrent or other public safety benefit. And they do so in a racially disparate way that stigmatizes and disadvantages the arrestees."
Support for this move is also coming form the state level with Kassandra Frederique, the New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, standing behind it. She calls the current state of cannabis arrests in New York a matter of overpolicing and economic suppression of people of color.
"The conversations about overpolicing of marijuana in primarily communities of color and the economic potential that legalization represents are clearly intertwined. The way in which New York legalizes marijuana must be responsive to our legacy as the marijuana arrest capital of the world."