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The Call Blog: Reforming Marijuana Arrests In New York

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Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at thecall@ny1.com and we'll post it to our blog.



Every phone line was ringing for most of our show tonight with some very good opinions.
I think the Brooklyn District Attorney's new policy to not prosecute people caught with small possessions of marijuana is a wise one -- reports say half a billion dollars of taxpayers' money will be saved.

Your thoughts and comments are posted below.



Elected officials joined New Yorkers on the steps of City Hall today to call for reforms to address "racially biased" marijuana arrests. The group supports the passage of the Fairness and Equity Act, a bill that would change the legal status for possessing small amounts of marijuana publicly from a misdemeanor to a violation and possible fine.

The rally comes one day after Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced his office in some cases will not prosecute first-time offenders arrested for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession in public. Thompson says about two-thirds of 8,500 cases processed last year in Brooklyn were dismissed by judges at arraignment. The policy will not apply to those who smoke in public or around children.

The goal is to make better use of police resources by allowing them to focus on more serious cases. Thompson also says it will keep offenders from having a minor offense on their record. Approximately 86 percent of those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana are black and Latino, despite government studies that show white men use marijuana at higher rates.

Should possession of small amounts of marijuana in public no longer be a misdemeanor? Do you support District Attorney Thompson's decision to use discretion when prosecuting some offenders? What reforms would you make regarding this issue? Do you have any personal experience with marijuana arrests?

Send your thoughts using the link above.



No one should be smoking marijuana around children because it's bad for their health, if people are using marijuana for medical reasons they should go to a secluded area and use it there. I believe DA Thompson should use descretion when people have marijuana in their possession they might be using it for medical reasons and they should have proof they're using it for medical reasons.

Herman
Upper West Side



The use of marijuana should be entirely legal. It never should have been made illegal.
Whatever any person wants to inhale, ingest, imbibe or shoot up is no one's business and in and of itself should not be a crime. The drug laws are all unconstitutional, violate our rights and restrict our freedom.

Joe
Port Richmond



Hi,I favour decriminimilise of possesion of small amount of marijuana, with clearly written of the set amount peermiting to posess no discretion of wheather to prosecute or not, Kenneth Thompson should spell out the quantity permitted, for every newyorker regardless of race or age or gender, laws only laws that is spelled out on paper, forget the stupid discretion of the officer or the court.

Joco
Sunnyside



It seems that the DA and Bratton are taking away the police officer's discretion to make an arrest. 7/8ths of an ounce is alot of weed for one person to be carrying around..Yes the officer can choose not to make an arrest but Officers must have the discretion to make an arrest.

Kate
Midtown East



Decriminalizing marijuana is a fine idea as marijuana is a pretty benign substance- worst thing is it quells ambition. On the other hand, possession and sales of giant soft drinks should be criminalized as these cause people much more problems and cost taxpayers a lot of money in health care costs.

Trish
West Soho



This measure ia a good step to force NY to legalize pot.

Nyla
Astoria



Arrests are not necessary when a summons could be issued. If the perp does not have an ID where a check can't be run on their criminal record to see if it's a first offense then they should be taken in so that their fingerprints can be checked. If they have ID and no criminal history, a summons is sufficient enough. Marijuana is still illegal and a problem but it does not need to clog the system with cases that will most likely be dismissed anyway.

Anonymous



Carrying a little Marijuana is absurd. Marijuana is illegal! So where does the insanity end... will it eventually become permissible to carry small amounts of crack, too? I never, ever thought I would say.... "I'm starting to miss Mayor Bloomberg!"

Kim
Harlem



Whats wrong with these people dont they know marijuana is a gateway drug now not everyone that smokes pot will become a junkie but every junkie started off smoking pot that's a fact

John
Woodside


'
Alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. Marijuana should be regulated like alcohol and ciggarrettes and left up to the user to be responsible about it. And I do not beleive it is a gateway drug. Ive never smoked and said "hey now crack sounds like a good idea "

Anonymous



First of all, Marijuana is not a gateway drug and I speak from experience. Marijuana needs to be legalized. Let's tax it and regulate it. I'm a former prosecutor and I know from personal experience that myself and my colleagues despised marijuana arrests. We hated prosecuting these cases and tried to get rid of them whenever we could. Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionally arrested and subsequently give criminal records for these low level offenses. We are wasting police and prosecutorial resources by continuing to make these arrests and filing criminal charges for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Good for Ken Thompson, it's a step in the right direction.

Alexandra
Brooklyn



Why is marijuana a "racial" subject? The answer shouldn't be lets make it legal so the blacks or Hispanics not get arrested. How about just don't do it?

Anonymous



I think the use of marijuana or weed is absurd. I know its not a gateway drug but any type of illegal drug can or will be dangerous. Marijuana shall be banned no matter what if it is a small amount or a large amount. I want it abolished.

Justin
Dongan Hills



The reason that it's more likely for black and Latinos to be arrested for marijuana use is because there are higher crime rates in neighborhoods with high percentages of black and Latino residents. Maybe the numbers are the same for black whites and Latinos using marijuana but ny1 has stories everyday about crime and violence in black and Latino neighborhoods. Can't remember the last time Simone was shot in my neighborhood. Definitely not as often as east New York. Everything is racist now a days.

Allie

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