HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html NYPD Will Start Using Summonses, Not Arrests, For Marijuana
Pubdate: Tue, 19 Jun 2018
Source: Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Copyright: 2018 The Morning Call Inc.
Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/DReo9M8z
Website: http://www.mcall.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/275
Author: Michael R. Sisak

NYPD WILL START USING SUMMONSES, NOT ARRESTS, FOR MARIJUANA

A marijuana user poses a joint over some ground marijuana Thursday,
Nov. 4, 2010 in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona voters were literally split
evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes,
leaving the proposition far too close to call.

A marijuana user poses a joint over some ground marijuana Thursday,
Nov. 4, 2010 in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona voters were literally split
evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes,
leaving the proposition far too close to call. (Matt York / AP)

Lighting up a joint in the Big Apple could lighten some wallets, but
won't lead to handcuffs in most cases once New York City's revamped
marijuana enforcement policy goes into effect on Labor Day weekend.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday police officers will shift to
issuing criminal summonses for public marijuana smoking starting Sept.
1 -- a move he estimates will eliminate at least 10,000 arrests a
year. The Democrat ordered the overhaul last month after a report
showed persistent racial gaps in marijuana arrests.

"Nobody's destiny should hinge on a minor nonviolent offense," said de
Blasio.

Officers will still arrest suspected smokers if they are on parole or
probation, have an open warrant, a violent criminal history or fail to
show identification, Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said. Getting
high while driving also will lead to arrest, he said.

Kassandra Frederique, the New York state director of Drug Policy
Alliance, said the exceptions signaled authorities still feel "certain
groups of people deserve to be criminalized" and that the city had
"found a way to skirt the issue on racial disparities."

Frederique called the summonses, which require a trip to court and
payment of a $100 fine, a "backdoor into the criminal justice system"
because people who miss their court date could wind up with a warrant
out for their arrest.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez supported the policy change
and said he was working on a process to seal the records of thousands
of people with marijuana-related convictions, which can impede their
ability to get a job or secure housing.

"We must bring a sense of fairness to the past at the same time we
implement these new enforcement policies," said Gonzalez. "We are
moving toward a reality in which marijuana will no longer serve as an
entry way to our criminal justice system, with all the attendant
collateral consequences."

New York set out to change its marijuana enforcement policy in May
after The New York Times reported blacks in the city were eight times
more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges as whites.

Soon after, Gonzalez and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
said they would scale back marijuana-related prosecutions and police
convened a group to study the policy with input from academics,
community leaders and others.

"The NYPD is not in the business of making criminals out of people
with no prior arrest history," said Police Commissioner James O'Neill,
denying officers were targeting anyone based on race. "We know that's
not productive."

Marijuana is illegal in New York state except for medical use on a
strictly regulated basis, but the state's top health official said
Monday that an upcoming report on the issue will recommend
legalization.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year this week,
suggesting it won't consider legalization until 2019 at the earliest
- -- leaving local authorities and critics to spar over how smokers are
treated under the existing law.

"Substituting summonses for arrests is certainly an improvement," said
New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman,
"but not nearly enough to end counterproductive and discriminatory
policing that has disproportionate and harmful impacts on communities
of color."
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MAP posted-by: Matt