Good news for Mythpuffers: according to new crime data, low-level marijuana arrests decreased by 22 percent in the city in 2012. This may be a good omen in the on-going NYC pot conversation, and NYU students can stil go to all their favorite dealer spots.
On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new city policy change for the booking of small-time marijuana crimes. Starting next month, people who get picked up on charges of having a small amount of marijuana will leave with only a ticket. While Bloomberg looks to decongest police stations and the courts system, NYU students should note that it’s a lot easier to ask your benevolent guardian for a miscellaneous amount of money than a bail bond via an awkward NYPD call.
Bloomberg also corroborated an earlier call for decriminalization by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In January, at the State of State speech, Cuomo proposed to ease off on up to 15 grams of marijuana, both as a concealed substance and publicly visible – just as long as it’s not being smoked. “These arrests stigmatize,” Cuomo said. He later noted that these arrests directly hurt the chances of getting into college or landing jobs, as they stay on citizen’s police records. “It’s not fair. It’s not right.”
This new argument over drug policy only underscores the problematic subjectivity and discrimination of Stop and Frisk. Under a 1977 New York State law, a citizen cannot be arrested for a low-level marijuana possession unless the drug is in public view or burning. But according to the New York Times, this policy can be easily overturned by Stop and Frisk. If a police officer targets someone and makes them empty their pockets, as is usually routine, a then-concealed bag of weed is then out in the open. Not only that, according to Division of Criminal Justice Services data reported by Gothamist, low-level marijuana crimes were the leading crime in the city, with over 39,000 New Yorkers arrested for minor pot possession. And the number of pot arrests in 2011 was second-highest number in city history.
And in case we forgot, Bloomberg still opposes the legalization of pot. The Associated Press reports that our mayor told a radio host that he “opposes legalizing marijuana because it’s stronger than it used to be. [Bloomberg] added that if marijuana were legal, those dealers would just start selling something else, like cocaine.” Undisclosed by Bloomberg was his strong belief in the dangerous power of Reefer Madness and smooth jazz over the city’s young people.
As the debate rages on, remember that no one has to submit to Stop and Frisk, make some fan-favorite special butter, and pray that Boulder, CO can be adopted as a sixth borough.