Arrests for Low-Level Marijuana Possession have Decreased 90 Percent Following New NYPD Marijuana Guidelines

Press Release November 8, 2018
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Melissa Moore 646-470-2827

Arrests for low-level marijuana possession have plummeted 90 percent since new NYPD marijuana enforcement guidelines took effect in September. There were 151 arrests for low-level marijuana in the entire city of New York in September 2018, less than 10 percent of the 1,500+ arrests last September and 3 percent of the 4,300+ arrests that took place in September 2010.
However, racial disparities in enforcement still persist, with Blacks and Latinx people comprising around 80 percent of the 1,000 summonses issued for marijuana.
Momentum for marijuana reform continues to build across the country and in New York. On Tuesday, Michigan became the tenth state to legalize marijuana for adult use and in September Governor Cuomo endorsed legalization and established a workgroup to draft legislation.

The Drug Policy Alliance is bringing hundreds of people to Albany in December for the Marijuana: Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment conference focusing on how marijuana legalization in New York presents a unique and much-needed opportunity to create equity, economic justice, and work to restore communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
Statement from Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
“The 90% drop in marijuana arrests in New York City is a positive development that will have a profound impact in the lives of New Yorkers. But this is not enough. There are still racial disparities in the 1,000-plus summons that were handed out in September for marijuana possession, which can turn into open warrants and have harmful impacts, which advocates and City Council will continue to examine.

As New York finally works to end the marijuana arrest crusade, we need our leaders to work to repair the damage that was done during the war on marijuana–that means clearing records and addressing the devastating impact these arrests have had on people’s housing, employment, education, and families.

As New York State is on the brink of legalizing marijuana, we are also clear that Governor Cuomo and the legislature must build an adult-use program that ensures equity and diversity and reinvests in the communities that were the hardest hit by marijuana enforcement. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act does all of these things. Governor Cuomo and the new Democratic majority need to take action right away.”
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