New York May Decriminalize Pot

The New York Police Department, which has been arresting tens of thousands of people a year — mostly minorities — for low-level marijuana possession, is poised to stop making such arrests and to issue tickets instead, according to an article in The New York Times.

People found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued court summonses, and be allowed to continue on their way without being arrested and booked. Of course, it would end an enforcement pattern from the War on Drugs that has long been fraught with racism:

Now, the de Blasio administration is publicly embracing the notion that such small-scale possession merits different treatment. And with the changes, City Hall is moving to retake control of a politically potent issue that has enormous resonance in the black and Latino communities, where a vast majority of small-scale marijuana arrests have taken place.

In the first eight months of the year, blacks and Hispanics represented 86 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession in the city, according to a study written in part by Harry G. Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College who is a director of the Marijuana Arrest Research Project.

Curbing arrests for small-scale marijuana possession has become a cause for criminal justice reform advocates across the country, paving the way for serious marijuana reform. Many cities and states have made move to decriminalize marijuana as medical marijuana and flat-out legalized marijuana use becomes commonplace. ,

Earlier this year, however the new Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, said he wanted to stop prosecuting marijuana possession, but he was greeted with opposition from Mr. de Blasio and his police commissioner, William J. Bratton, who vowed to continue making low-level marijuana arrests. It appears they are willing to make some concessions, after all.