Marijuana arrests fall in New York after rule change

NEW YORK Wed Dec 7, 2011 5:26pm EST

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession have fallen 13 percent in New York City since September, when the police department relaxed its enforcement policy, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

New York City police made 1,190 fewer marijuana arrests since Commissioner Raymond Kelly's September 19 directive, compared to the same nine-week period a year ago, spokesman Paul Browne said.

A coalition of groups that has criticized the police force for its aggressive approach to marijuana possession called the numbers a "disappointing drop" and said New York City remains the "marijuana arrest capital of the world."

"Unfortunately, these figures are cause for outrage, not celebration," Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement. "In this economy, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD are wasting millions of tax dollars by using illegal searches and false charges to sweep tens of thousands of black and Latino youth into the criminal justice system.

A person who is caught smoking marijuana, or has a small amount of it in public view, is still subject to arrest, according to the guidelines. But in cases where "the same small amount" is discovered in a suspect's pockets during a police search, it is considered a violation, punishable by summons, Brown said.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by David Bailey)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
333maxwell wrote:
Let it go.. such an old expensive law… it hasn’t served us well at all, and quite frankly I have paid a good share of my own taxes the last 40 years. And they say we have spent a trillion dollars the last 40 years fighting grass.

I divide that up amongst me and my tax paying peers my age, and I think ‘wow, if we had that money back the last 40 years that has financed this insanity, we could all afford new houses and a new car’.

Being afraid of a weed is an expensive luxury we can no longer afford… I’m tapped.. I’m afraid I really need the money now to do something radical like buy groceries and pay off the electric bill.

Please stop spending our money like this to finance keeping a thriving black market industry intact and making common criminals of otherwise law abiding citizens (they say we arrest someone for mere possession in this country, every 27 seconds).

Dec 07, 2011 7:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Buzzby wrote:
The NYPD was illegally entrapping people into the arrestable offense of having cannabis in public view by requiring detainees to empty their pockets, thereby putting the cannabis in public view. All of those arrests and subsequent convictions should be expunged.

Entrapment is defined as a situation in which law enforcement induces someone into committing a crime they would otherwise not be inclined to commit. I don’t know of anyone who would be inclined to show their marijuana to a police officer.

Dec 07, 2011 8:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.