Assemblyman and Council Members to Join Advocates In Front of Police Headquarters to Applaud Change in Policy for Marijuana Arrests
Elected Officials Continue Push to Standardize Penalties for Marijuana Possession Offenses
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, will be joined by advocates from the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, VOCAL NY, and the Drug Policy Alliance, in front of One Police Plaza on Tuesday, September 27 at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate an internal order issued by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to all precinct commanding officers to stop arresting New Yorkers for small quantities of marijuana, if the cannabis was not in plain view.
In 2010, more than 54,000 people—mostly black or Latino young men—were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana in New York State. More than 50,000 of these arrests occurred in New York City, making it the most frequent crime citywide.
According to civil rights lawyers, many of these people were stopped as part of the police department’s stop-and-frisk practice and were arrested after officers told them to empty their pockets, which brought the marijuana into open view.
Commissioner Kelly’s memo makes it clear that displaying marijuana must be an “activity undertaken of the subject’s own volition” and that people may not be charged with violating the law if the marijuana “was disclosed to public view at an officer’s direction.”
The internal order can be made permanent, and apply to all of New York State, through passage of the bipartisan bill A.7620-Jeffries/S.5187-Grisanti. This legislation would standardize penalties for marijuana possession offenses, protect New Yorkers from illegal searches, save taxpayer dollars, and bring down the disproportionately high number of arrests among black and Latino men for marijuana-related crimes by eliminating the misdemeanor charge.
Council Member Mark-Viverito introduced a City Council resolution that Council Member Williams is sponsoring that supports the passage of this legislation.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office is opposed to changing the law, reports Elizabeth A. Harris at The New York Times
Mayoral aide Frank Barry in June said downgrading marijuana charges would “encourage smoking in the streets and in our parks, reversing successful efforts to clean up neighborhoods and eliminate the open-air drug markets like we used to find in Washington Square Park.”
Who: Assemblyman Hakeen Jeffries, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Jumaane Williams, advocates from the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, VOCAL NY, the Drug Policy Alliance, and others
When: Tuesday, September 27, 1:30 p.m.
Where: One Police Plaza (4,5,6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall; J,Z train to Chambers Street)