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New York City’s New Boss, Same as the Old?

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director May 9, 2014

    A new report released this week by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project reveals that marijuana arrests have actually increased in New York City under the new leadership of Mayor De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton.

    In March 2014, the NYPD performed more marijuana possession arrests than in any month in the last six months under the Bloomberg administration. In fact, March 2014 saw more arrests than in 10 of the 12 months in 2013 under the previous administration. The total number of arrests for first quarter of 2014 are higher than both the third and fourth quarters of 2013.

    These arrests also continue the disturbing trend of disproportionately falling on individuals of color. In Brooklyn, in predominately white Park Slope, police made just 7 marijuana possession arrests in the first three months of 2014. In Carroll Gardens and Red Hook they made 12 marijuana arrests in that same time frame. More affluent neighborhoods saw even fewer arrests. In Manhattan, Police only made two marijuana possession arrests in the Tribeca/Wall Street area, one arrest in the Upper East Side, and four arrests in the Upper West Side. The story is quite different in predominately black or latino neighborhoods, where the police made significantly more arrests. In Bedford-Stuyvesant 111 individuals were arrested, 130 in Crown Heights, and 438 in East New York from January to March of this year.

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    Despite similar use rates across racial groups, 86% of those arrested in the first quarter of 2014 were blacks and Latinos.

    Harry Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College, City University of New York, and co-director of Marijuana Arrest Research Project said:

    “At 28,000 arrests a year, New York still makes more marijuana possession arrests than any city in the world. Yet the simple possession of marijuana has not been a crime in New York State since 1978. Isn’t it time for these unfair, biased, damaging, often illegal arrests to just stop, now?”

    25 Responses to “New York City’s New Boss, Same as the Old?”

    1. TheOracle says:

      I’ll give DeBlasio the benefit of the doubt for the time being and say that the NYPD is taking advantage of the confusion that takes place at the beginning of an administration change. I’m hoping that the NYPD knows the mayor is going to stop their practices that disproportionately target poor people and people of color trying, and is busting as many people as they can, at and even faster rate than before just to make an ass out of the new boss and to keep in good with the prohibitionist feds, you know, to keep their numbers looking good for even after the lord mayor puts the kibosh on it.

      I said it before, and I’ll say it again. DeBlasio needs to impose a zero money spending policy on cannabis delicts so the cannabis shops, both medical and recreational, can openly operate. Bill, who gives a shit if Cuomo doesn’t like it? Who gives a shit if the feds don’t like it? Cuomo needs to keep state law enforcement out of the picture, all NY state agencies from interfering in the Big Apple cannabis scene. The feds are strapped, and there is no way in hell that they’ll be able to shut it all down. At best, they could try to make a few token busts, which would only piss off the public, as they’ll be pissing away even more good money on cannabis prohibition whack-a-mole.

      The Big Apple can copy the Colorado banking setup. Wall Street can lick its chops at the prospect of legal cannabis. The feds can exact some sort of federal cannabis tax to be put into funding social security, you know, all of the revenues, so that social security doesn’t go bankrupt, I mean, social security disability is already suffering. Jobs, jobs, jobs, people who can’t get jobs that aren’t there will be able to get cannabis sector jobs. People who can’t get jobs because they can’t pass a piss test because of cannabis use will be able to get jobs, no more obstacle from cannabis in pre-employment drug testing.

      As The Big Apple goes, as New York goes, so goes the nation.

      Bill, do something pro-cannabis!

      Or, do you want to go down in history as the NYC mayor the NYPD made an ass out of bigtime just before cannabis prohibition is ended?

    2. Neil Hughes says:

      As I grow older (53) I’m getting to the point of being INFURIATED! by how much little reason the world is ruled by! Now we are at a point where our elected representatives (what a joke!) show nothing but utter contempt for their constituents (unless you have money of course). It’s no longer just about marijuana anymore! The elite and politicians are engineering the world to suit them. If that isn’t bad enough they do it now with blatant disregard for how we feel or think or suffer!! Does anyone else out there feel as enraged as I do?

    3. dk says:

      And the beat goes on. They kiss our babies and smile big and promise us the world if we’ll just give them our money and our votes. So, we put them in office, only to discover that we just employed another liar.

    4. Julian says:

      Betrayal! DeBlasio ran his campaign against stop and frisk and this is what we get? New Yorkers need to protest the Mayor’s office with a sit-in! And what about his kids? They’re dark skinned. What do they get a “get out of jail free” card when they drive through the East side?
      If we’re gonna profile why don’t we go after white, suit-and-tie males with slick-backed hair and a propensity to bet against their own investments schemes like down on Wall Street? Now that’s a stereotypical criminal!

    5. Ray says:

      I don’t blame law enforcement for enforcing the law, I blame the law itself for being wrong.

      Marijuana Prohibition was 1930s thinking with no cable tv, no internet, or dish. The paper controlled by Hearst, live blackface minstrel shows, and radio shows like Amos’n’Andy were the top rated show in the nation.

      Hey New Yorkers check out Senator Liz Krueger she understands the potential:
      http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senator-krueger-assemblymember-peoples-stokes-hold-public-forum-nys-marijuana-regulati

      Go MRTA! Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

    6. anonymous23 says:

      Maybe, just maybe the NYPD is being more zealous than usual in their arrests because a new administration who doesn’t approve of this sort of thing has been voted into office? Sometimes when change is happening; instead of accepting it, some try to crack down even harder on it.

      Just because de Blasio is now mayor doesn’t mean that all of the old guard from previous administrations have been completely removed. There’s even a pretty good chance he doesn’t even know this is happening.

      Elected officials have so many priorities they have to juggle and it’s very easy your issue to get lost at bottom of the pile.

      To me, it isn’t the fact that the increased arrests are happening. It’s whether or not de Blasio will address the issue. Right now, he’s the “new kid on the block.” However, the honeymoon period will soon end.

      Not everybody who serves a government function agrees with their superiors (even if these superiors are elected officials) and the rules they operate under allow them some leeway in our they carry out their duties.

      Either way, it’s good that somebody is bringing awareness to this issue. But, the big question now is what will be done about it?

    7. Galileo Galilei says:

      Why am I not surprised?

    8. RUT says:

      THE LEADERS IN OUR COUNTRY ARE SICK. AMERICA A PENAL COLONY FOR PROFIT ! Laws that are built on lies and propaganda must be enforced buy our great leaders.Every day these creeps want to keep arresting harmless people for monetary gain even as they know their BS is on borrowed time. Get in those last bucks and keep ruining young lives so you can have lots of law enforcement jobs. PROTECT AND SERVE…HA!

    9. Me says:

      Wait a second, are these marijuana arrests the only thing they were charged with? I would imagine that if you commit more crime you would be more likely to be arrested and searched, and then also charged with the marijuana that was in your possession while you are being arrested for the crime you were commiting. If you want to see the marijuana arrest numbers go down tell the stupid criminals to leave the weed at home while they are out stealing shit and shooting people. It simple really.

      [Editor's note: Wait a second, are these marijuana arrests the only thing they were charged with? Yes, cannabis is the principle and only charge associated with these 40,000 plus annual arrests for cannabis in NYC.]

    10. Serge Kannon says:

      The reason I don’t vote. Voters are suckers and anything a politician says before the election MUST be accepted as lies. Tell me I’m wrong.

      [Editor's note: Because citizens thankfully not as jaded as you voted in states like CO for cannabis legalization in the majority, tens of thousands of CO citizens and tourists TODAY will walk into a legal cannabis store, pick the products they want, city/state will get a share of the action via taxes...meaning because citizens cared, cannabis prohibition has ended in CO.

      Clearly, you're wrong and too jaded.]

    11. Weed The People says:

      The plant deserves better treatment than what it’s getting in Old New York.
      Revenue from taxes collected is the major reason Politicans are thinking about it. Cuckold Cuomo doesn’t care either way, but he would gladly take the money from taxes collected. He is the tin man, NO HEART!
      Shame on him & other elected officials who have no compassion.
      I Vote. My voice will be heard.

    12. mexweed says:

      @Weed the People says “Revenue from taxes collected” without spelling out that the biggest issue here is $IGARETTE taxes collected.

      Yes, shame on the politicians, but there’s something you can do: CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE THE JOINT. Rolling papers teach children who STARTED with the intent to “experiment with cannabis” behavior that promotes exposure to carbon monoxide and combustion toxins and, eventually (tobacco added to joints in Europe, nicotine in the cigar skin of “blunts” in USA), into “taxsable” nicotine addiction.

      The politicians get their campaign money, the bureaucrats get their taxes, but “tobacco smoking”-related illness costs the US economy $289 BIL. a year (2014 Surgeon General Report).

      Cannabis campaigners, NORML– do something about the tobacco holocaust (google Robert C. Proctor’s book).

    13. mexweed says:

      Apologies– the reference is Robert N. Proctor: “Golden Holocaust”.

    14. Voice of the Resistance says:

      I’M 58 years, ever since I was young in grade, and high school elected officials took the oath of office swearing to uphold the constitution, and they have often lied about it. Like drug testing, I can read the 4th amendment we as a nation used to pride ourselves on our criminal justice system, that individuals were considered innocent until proven guilty. Not so any more thanks to old man red-lips, his witch- hunt of the year 1989, and that long night of the crack babies, which is what I call that awful dark time in our nations history. And don’t let anyone put you on a guilt trip or label you as unpatriotic because you smoke pot or don’t wish to drug test. I don’t need to wave the flag around to know the difference between right and wrong.

    15. JV says:

      I am glad NORML has bemone the impetus that exposes rights violations against humanity. Simply possessing marijuana is not supposed to be a criminal act in NYC. Smoking it and having metabolites in your urine when your sober and ready to work shouldn’t be a criminal act either. Let us hope a rescheduling of cannabis is in our future.
      Keep up the good work

    16. anonymous23 says:

      @Serge Kannon –

      You really need to get off your fucking ass and vote!!!!

      It’s not just donations that NORML and other groups similar need your help with, but they actually need you to show up on election day.

    17. Julian says:

      There are so many industries out there trying to kill us or incarcerate us for profit using cannabis prohibition its difficult to name them. But once again, I’ll give it a try;
      Here’s a Top Ten Most Wanted list of heavily funded industries for the prohibition of Cannabis, in order of bad laws and lobbies at the federal level. Some industries are grouped with agencies in the same category, inseperable to their role in America’s Marijuana Corruption Ring. (Feel free to add or rearrange to the list, but this is basically who we’re up against):

      10. Arms dealers/ N.R.A. The A.T.F. & C.D.C.
      9. Drug lords/international military Narco-traffickers (including the U.S.Military and N.A.T.O.)
      8. Altria/ tobacco industry, which owns synthetic food industries Kraft and Nabisco
      7. Rehabilitation centers/ Fraud
      6. Drug testing facilities/ Robert DuPont
      5. Private Prison owners/ Detention centers
      4. Koch Industries; crude oil synthetics, (nylon, plastics) the A.C.C.(Exxon, BP, etc.) timber and petrochemical patent products (Everything from Brauny paper towels, to Georgia Pacific to stainmaster carpets).
      3. DEA- asset forfeitures, licensing; the C.S.Act, which means the Department of Justice
      2. Congress and U.S. Banks- kickbacks from laundered drug money spent on campaigns
      1. Big Pharma, (GW Pharmacueticals, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline) NIDA and The Department of Health and Human Social Services Patent “..507“ on certain (exo)cannabinoids as neuroprotectants/ Child custody and the school drug prescription pandemic, (i.e. Inflated health care costs due to overprescription)

      Im sure theres more, but that pretty much covers every prohibitionist we’re up against and your cousin Vinny. And you know what? We’re winning! Thanks to NORML more Americans are being educated about our human civil right for clean, sustainable cannabis medicine, recreation, fuel, building materials, celulosic plastics and food every day. Thanks to NORML, good laws are being written to replace the bad ones, and people are willing to get out and vote for their freedom.
      Remember, no matter how powerful these agencies or industries are, we gave them that power by choosing whether to vote either by elected officials or what we choose to purchase and consume as Americans.
      But remember what we’re fighting for; to grow cannabis in our own fields and gardens! Tell that procrastinating relative that likes to say, “give it up, it’ll never happen” to Grow a Pair and Let’s Grow Our Own!

    18. Dave Evans says:

      Yes indeed, why are the cops still allowed to illegally arrest people? The law is from 1978, meaning these pigs have been breaking the law for 36 years. WTF??? What does it take?

    19. Dennis King says:

      Some things seem to ever change ! Just remember the people who voted for you into public office,you had promised it was time for a change on the laws that were on the books. Don’t go back on your word it is all you have to go on. People are counting on you for medical use and I can think of a hundred things the cops would rather do than bust someone for weed. It is not 1937 !! Let it go ! The war on drugs is over! Now you can use your time for meth,crack and other hard drugs.

    20. Miles says:

      @Serge Kannon – You should definitely be voting, but only for people who are in favor of legalization. Do your homework and then cast your vote!

    21. Dennis King says:

      Miles you are so right!!!

    22. SmokeyJoeWood says:

      DiBlasio is pro-union above all else. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong; he’s being loyal to the people who put him there.

      So…marijuana prohibition means police arresting lots of people that are generally non-threatening, which means better stats and more overtime with little risk, which means a happy NYPD. This is the main reason why I sadly do not think legalization is coming to the northeast US any time soon.

    23. Mark I says:

      They say you have to give up the right to drive if using cannabis as a medication, when you only need to give up material wealth and financial independence law enforcement is trained to steal without due processes.

    24. 2roland says:

      perhaps the day will come when we the people dont have to hide our lil bitty weed pipes in our dwars (like wer hidding our barretts from the local sex offenders) its our personal life what goes on in the homes of concenting adults is not the bussiness of the state)

    25. Eric Jaffa says:

      What about the first quarter of 2013?

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