New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked the New York Police Department (NYPD) to stop arresting people found smoking marijuana in public. Speaking at a conference at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C., he said that the police should issue summons to those caught smoking marijuana instead of arresting them, the same punishment currently given to those found to possess small amounts of the drug.
At the behest of the Mayor, the NYPD has already constituted a working group to evaluate its marijuana enforcement policies and will present its recommendations within a month. “The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure the enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns,” said Phil Walzak, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information. It is worth mentioning that New York like some other states has decriminalized marijuana, which means that it is a violation and not a crime to possess small amounts of cannabis.
Minorities are an easy target
The Mayor called for an end to such arrests after Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Cyrus Vance Jr. announced a new policy on May 15 to stop the prosecution in cases involving minor marijuana possession or smoking. To be effective from Aug 1, 2018, the decision was taken after the DA’s office spent around six months analyzing places where marijuana has been decriminalized. Mentioning the last year’s more than 5,500 arrests made by the Manhattan police for smoking or possessing small amounts of marijuana, Vance said that a majority of those arrested were minorities. He further added that the DA’s office aims to build a safer New York and a more equal justice system, and arresting black and brown New Yorkers would in no way help the cause.
New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that the officers should refrain from making arrests that don’t come in the way of public safety. He also disapproved of the notion that the department targets minorities in particular and said that the differences in arrest rates have persisted for long and should not be linked to the current administration.
Marijuana, the gateway to lethal drugs
Categorized as a Schedule I drug under the federal law, marijuana is one of the most abused substances in the United States. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), around 24 million Americans aged 12 or older used cannabis in the past year. It is important to remember that abusing marijuana or any other form of drug is dangerous and can lead to devastating effects on an individual’s health, sometimes even death. Therefore, if you know someone who is finding it hard to come out of the clutches of such an addiction, suggest him/her to seek professional help from one of the best drug abuse rehab facilities.
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