Marijuana Laws in New York City Are a-Changing

Get ready to light it up if you live in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently told the big wigs at the New York Police Department to quit arresting people who are caught for smoking marijuana in public, according to a report by CNN. Instead, people should be issued a summonses for smoking the herb in public spaces.

The NYPD has already been tasked with evaluating its current marijuana enforcement procedures. In 30 days, the special task force has to present recommendations to Mayor de Blasio on how to improve the current processes for dealing with pot-related incidents.

Under the current policy, smoking in public can get you arrested, fingerprinted, and brought to appear before a judge. De Blasio has been a firm supporter of ending marijuana-related arrests and is wasting no time trying to overturn the current status quo. Although, any changes to the NYPD’s current policy won’t actually go into effect until the end of summer.

Until then, keep it discreet. Hopefully you will not get arrested for smoking a little joint in the park, but a summonses still means you would have to appear before a judge if a police officer stops you. Possession of small amounts of marijuana in public is warrant for a summonses as well.

In 2017, there were about 5,500 marijuana-related arrests in Manhattan, most of which were of disproportionately black New Yorkers according to CNN. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is working with de Blasio to put a stop these bias-related arrests. Starting August 1, Vance has agreed to end prosecution of marijuana possession and smoking cases.

“The dual mission of the Manhattan DA’s office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system,” Vance said Tuesday. “The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals.”

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