If you get caught carrying a little bit of weed, the NYPD says you probably won't get arrested or even receive a ticket. But if you get caught with THC, the most active ingredient in marijuana, you could be in big trouble.
At a City Council hearing Wednesday, Councilman Lancman, who's running For Queens District Attorney, said he was outraged people are getting handcuffed and prosecuted for having THC oil, which is usually vaped with an electronic device. As he spoke to Police Commissioner James O'Neill and other NYPD executives about people being arrested, he voiced his frustrations.
"They are getting charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which is also the charge for someone who has a small amount of heroin in their possession," said Lancman.
That’s an offense that could get someone a year in jail because THC is a controlled substance.
Last year, Mayor de Blasio and his administration said cops would no longer go after people for small marijuana offenses.
After the City Council began asking questions about the contradiction, the NYPD said it would change its practice of arresting and charging people for possessing the oil.
Ann Prunty is the Assistant Commissioner for Legal Matters for the police department. She informed the council as to how the NYPD will go about charging people in possession of TCH.
"We are in the process of doing this, formulating a policy whereby if it is THC oil, we will be charging the marijuana offense," Prunty said on Wednesday.
But with recreational marijuana likely to become legal in New York, lawyers from Brooklyn Defenders say the NYPD should not be charging anyone who's vaping THC with the less serious offense, either.
"Think about how THC is smoked,” said Scott Hechinger, the Director of Policy for Brooklyn Defenders. “THC, it is actually less of a public nuisance. It is better for your health than smoking marijuana the typical ways marijuana is smoked."
Lawyers with Brooklyn Defenders say they will be watching to see if the NYPD stands by its word or if it's just blowing smoke.