De Blasio promises changes to how NYPD handles marijuana arrests

Part of New York city will stop prosecutions for pot possession and smokingMore

Vance said the aim was "a safer NY and a more equal justice system".

- Just as some members of the New York City Council denounced the racial disparities in marijuana arrests, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the NYPD will change how it enforces marijuana laws.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said Tuesday it will no longer prosecute people for possessing and smoking marijuana, a move that will sharply reduce the low-level criminal charges that overwhelmingly affect black and Hispanic people.

The NYPD Working Group will be comprised of a cross-section of executive leadership, who will review department policies and procedures regarding arrests and summonses for marijuana-related offenses. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals", Vance said in a prepared statement. "We are in discussions with the mayor and police commissioner to consider limited exceptions to this policy, the goal of which is to radically reduce the criminal prosecution of these offenses". "There is a disparity and we're trying to find what that disparity is. It's time for those to be a thing of the past, in New York City and all over this country".

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DPA is now leading a campaign, Start Smart New York, to pass marijuana legalization in New York, with a focus on racial, social and economic justice. Police now issue summonses when someone is found with marijuana instead of making arrests. We're not looking to arrest any people of color that have no nexus to violence, to crime or violence. "When people's lives are being upended for carrying a small amount of pot, something is wrong with our criminal justice system".

The mayor's announcement comes after City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for change to address the disparity in arrest numbers between white people, and black and Latino people.

"This is not what our city is about", Johnson added. As a result, large numbers of New Yorkers become further alienated from law enforcement and removed from community participation at an enormous cost to the criminal justice system, for virtually no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent goal. "These arrests are ruining lives". The bill would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. "The grandchild of stop-and-frisk is marijuana arrests based on race", Sharpton said. So when it's smoked in public, how do you handle it?

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