Report: New York City Cops Spent One Million Hours In Staff Time Making Marijuana Possession Arrests

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 19, 2013

    New York City police spent an estimated one million hours in staff time making low level marijuana possession arrests between the years 2002 and 2012, according to the findings of a study released today by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance.

    Authors of the study report that City law enforcement personnel engaged in approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over the past 11 years. Authors further estimated that those arrested for marijuana possession in New York City have spent five million hours in police custody over the last decade.

    Authors concluded: “[I]t is clear that the marijuana arrests have taken police off the street and away from other crime-fighting activities for a significant amount of time.”

    Under state law, the private possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal civil citation, punishable by a $100 fine. By contrast, the possession of any amount of cannabis in public view is a criminal misdemeanor [NY State Penal Law 221.10].

    Previously published data reports that over 90 percent of all marijuana arrests in the state of New York occur in New York City. In 2011, New York City law enforcement spent $75 million arresting approximately 50,000 minor marijuana offenders under Penal Law 221.10. Many of these offenders possessed small amounts of marijuana on their person, and only revealed the cannabis publicly after being ordered by police to empty their pockets during ‘stop-and-frisk’ searches. Over 85 percent of those charged were either African American or Latino.

    In his 2013 ‘State of the State’ address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lobbied in favor of legislation to equalize the state’s marijuana possession penalties and to reduce the number of low-level possession arrests in New York City. “These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record,” he said. “It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end, and it must end now.”

    Full text of the report, “One million police hours making 440,000 marijuana possession arrests ion New York City, 2002-2012,” appears online here.

    32 responses to “Report: New York City Cops Spent One Million Hours In Staff Time Making Marijuana Possession Arrests”

    1. Dave says:

      Of course its an easy arrest for them

    2. RUT says:

      Basically law enforcement MADE ONE MILLION HOURS WORTH OF SALARY in one year. How will they ever give up this “cash cow”. How much property did they seize and enjoy the spoils of. The governor should be thanked for his brave stand. NEW YORK CITIES STOP AND SEARCH POLICY IS A CRIME IN ITSELF. I hope more governors follow suit.

    3. Dick Justice says:

      Absolutely ridiculous.

    4. Miles says:

      What an incredible waste!!!

      When will the stupidity end?

      Why can’t the powers that be understand that the harm of prohibition far outweighs any harm that would result from legalization?

    5. xDOWNSOUTHx says:

      Cops will not be trusted until they stop acting like they run the world. Doing as they please and breaking the law they are sworn to protect.

      The prohibition of marijuana is what makes the drug a danger. I know it. You know it, the police know it and yet they still throw everyday people in jail for a HARMLESS drug that’s safer than peanuts.

    6. xDOWNSOUTHx says:

      Also, I wonder how much $$ that would add up to?
      I read that the average salary for a NY police officer is $45,000. That’s just mind blowing amount of waste.


    7. hashpirate says:

      Governor Andrew Cuomo—winning

    8. BobKat says:

      That’s 440,000 citizens documented as well as burdened for life for possession of a plant in a country that “Trusts In God”. It’s also a huge drain on NY State tax-payers. It legitimizes an increased police presence as they have to do something while on the job.

      I grew up in NY, and it’s sad… I had to move away. I was subject to one of those “prized convictions” for marijuana possession, one of the 10% outside of NYC. An illicit, unapproved search of my car that yielded a pot-pipe buried under debris on my front passenger side seat. That was in 1985 and it haunts me to this day.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but that’s plain wrong. Truth be told I find it hard to even support control of through criminal means of hard drugs like heroin and meth, given that the two legal drugs out there are sold in adult candy stores with hardly the blink of an eye.

      And we’re arresting and torturing people for cannabis??? Why is it so hard to see the injustice in this? Why can’t our government see how wrong it is?

    9. Anonymous says:

      Time and money well spent! Get those vicious, terrible, non-deadly bud smokers off the streets!!!

      Who needs to put rapists, murderers and thieves behind bars…

    10. Shaun says:

      and ban soda too. Those are the major threats to the world. Weed and soda