According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) New York City arrests and jails more people for minor marijuana possession than any other city in the United States. This telling statistic made headlines late last month after a protest in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's home over NYC marijuana arrests.
The NYCLU points out both the absurd number of arrests – 350,000 since 2002 for low-level pot offenses – as well as the disparity of who gets busted by the NYPD – “the vast majority of those arrested were black or Latino.”
Even though minor marijuana possession is decriminalized in New York, the NYPD continues to arrest people for pot at an alarming rate. In fact, the NYPD busted over 50,000 people last year for marijuana offenses.
While marijuana-related arrests skyrocketed in New York City under former mayor Rudy Giuliani, the city has remained a distinctly unfriendly place for pot smokers with Mr. Bloomberg at the helm for two+ terms. It is a particularly unfriendly place for marijuana smokers of color as “86 percent of people arrested for marijuana possession in New York City are black or Latino.”
The city’s unprecedented and inequitable marijuana-related arrests are not just a poor use of resources; they’re also a source of distrust between police and community.