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

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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.


    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:

      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.]