The district attorney's office in Manhattan, New York City's largest borough, will no longer file charges against defendants in most marijuana possession and smoking cases, the office announced on Tuesday. The Manhattan district attorney's office policy change will be effective August 1.
Vance noted that his office is "in discussions with the Mayor and Police Commissioner to consider limited exceptions to this policy".
Data from the NYPD released in February revealed that 86 percent of people arrested for low-level marijuana possession in 2017 were black or Hispanic, despite being no more likely to smoke pot, while only 9 percent of those arrested were white.
The Times also debunked the NYPD explanation for the disparities, which the police attribute to more 311 and 911 complaints in certain neighborhoods.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the police department will overhaul its citywide marijuana-arrest policies within the next 30 days.
"I believe that low-level marijuana cases should be responded to with summonses rather than arrests", Gonzalez said. "It's time for those to be a thing of the past in New York City and all over this country". The shift was one of a number announced by public officials Tuesday, signaling a substantial softening of marijuana enforcement across the city.
The legislation also ensures tax revenue generated from marijuana legalization is put to use repairing communities devastated by harsh enforcement of prohibition by directing revenue to fund job training, adult education, youth development programming, establish or expand community centers, bolster re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated, and otherwise support community-focused programming in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, in addition to education, public health, and drug treatment.
Brooklyn's late district attorney announced a similar policy in July 2014, saying law enforcement resources could be better used elsewhere and that petty offenders should not be saddled with a criminal record for a minor offence. "The number of arrests in that precinct, the 76th Precinct, were 246 arrests".
The rates were even worse in Manhattan, where black people were arrested on marijuana charges at 15 times the rate of white people.
In his speech Tuesday, de Blasio promised changes were coming.
At a press conference at City Hall Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton also slammed the NYPD for its racial bias in arrests. "We need an honest assessment about why they exist, and balance it in the context of the public safety needs of all communities".
"The grandchild of stop-and-frisk is marijuana arrests based on race", he said. The first from City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that legalizing marijuana could bring the state $3.1 billion, including $1.1 billion for the city.
The state Democratic Party expected to formally back legalization, and Gov. Cuomo, who has opposed it, said moves by surrounding states to legalize have changed the equation.
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