You probably know the rules by now: in New York City, if you’re caught in public view with pot, or in possession of 25 grams or more, you’re getting a violation. Because of this (well, at least, partially), New Yorkers made up 99.2 percent (149,951) of the entire state’s marijuana-related arrests (total: 155,048) last year. And, in 2012, getting thrown in the can for the reefer was still No. 1 in New York with the highest amount of arrests.
But lately, the external pressures placed on internal agencies by the incredibly high rates has become an engine for policy shifts. This is why Governor Cuomo continues to try to outlaw the public view provision in the criminal code last year. And why Bloomberg has opted out of the ‘stay overnight in jail, be at court in the morning’ situation for marijuana offenders. And why NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has even told his officers to chill (brah) with the pot arrests.
Luckily, it looks like these efforts are actually showing real-time results.
According to data provided by the New York Post, marijuana arrests will fall 20 percent this year, continuing an overall downward slope that has characterized the sticky icky situation over the past few years. Since January, a little more than 10,000 New Yorkers have been accosted for pot charges – a number still outrageous but, compared to last year’s numbers, a little less outrageous.
On a lighter note, a source told the Post that the NYPD are moving their attention over to what really matters: “let’s just focus on pills and cocaine.” You know, those drugs that actually do kill people, lead to terrible societal consequences, raise crime rates, yada, yada, yada. For the first time in seemingly forever, narcotics in New York are being weighed by that criteria.
Oh, to cap everything off: if Cuomo’s attempt last year at nullifying the public view crackdowns had been passed, nearly 99% of the arrests in 2012 would not have happened. Talk about swift justice.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 13, 2013