New York City Mayor,Â Bill De Blasio,Â has called for the NYPD to no longer arrest those found smoking marijuana in public.
Marijuana is currently still illegal in New York, and smoking in public can lead to an arrest by the NYPD.Â De Blasio has recommended that instead of arresting those found smoking marijuana in public, individuals should be issued with a summons or ‘pink ticket’. This would be the same protocol that is currently used for individuals found in possession of a small amount of marijuana.
This effort to relax New York’s approach inÂ dealing with marijuana related arrests comes after implications of racial bias by the NYPD wereÂ raised.Â 86% of individuals arrested for possession last year were black orÂ Hispanic, despite use of the drug beingÂ fairly equalÂ between whites and people of color. De Blasio has stated that he will not tolerate these disparities, and that heÂ wants to close theÂ gap,Â stating “WeÂ mustÂ and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity inÂ enforcement”.
De Blasio hasÂ publicly acknowledged thatÂ marijuana legalizationÂ is likely to be introduced sooner rather than later.Â InÂ a statement issued to the public, De BlasioÂ said,Â “WithÂ marijuanaÂ legalizationÂ likely to occur in our state in the near future, it is critical our city plans for the publicÂ safety, health,Â and financial consequences involved”.
De Blasio has also ordered the NYPD to create a taskforce to prepare forÂ legalization of recreational marijuana, and the NYPD confirmed in a public statement that they had a developed a working group. Police spokesperson PhilÂ WalzakÂ stated that the working group would be focused on reviewing changes to the law and making sure that enforcement of the law would be as fair and unbiased as possible.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is also preparing for the legalization of recreational marijuana, stating that from August 1stÂ he would no longer prosecute cases of marijuana smoking and possession. Vance has also acknowledged the unfair targeting of minorities in marijuana relatedÂ arrests, andÂ has stated that these arrests do not reflect the city’s goal of a fairer justice system for all NewÂ Yorkers, regardless of race.
MarijuanaÂ legalizationÂ is currently a hot topic in the race for governor of New YorkÂ also, withÂ gubernatorialÂ candidate Cynthia NixonÂ sayingÂ she willÂ legalizeÂ marijuana if she is elected. Nixon isÂ competing with current governor Andrew Cuomo for the democratic nomination.Â Cuomo has previously said he is against the legalization of marijuana, however,Â he has stated that his stance could change.