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Civil libertarians skeptical on NYC cannabis policy

Posted on November 11th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

New York CityNew York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton whimsically held up a baggie filled with oregano to show what 25 grams (about an ounce) of herb looks like in announcing the new policy to stop making arrests for those found in possession of that much cannabis in public view. The policy is expected to curb the tens of thousands of arrests for low-level possession the NYPD makes each year—busts that disproportionately affect Black and Latino residents despite the fact that whites use the herb no less. Despite New York State's 1976 decriminalization law, the Big Apple has remained the marijuana arrest capital of the world—and arrests have actually increased since the supposedly progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio took office this year. Pot in public view is what is critical—allowing police to make arrests for what would otherwise be just a ticketable offense. But even under the new policy, possession in public view can still get you a summons and a $100 fine, and those smoking in public will still be subject to arrest.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), writes in an opinion in the Daily News that while the de Blasio administration is on the right track by ending low-level cannabis arrests, "New Yorkers need to know if the NYPD is finally ending its marijuana crusade or if it is simply shifting its tactics to mitigate the harm. A trip to summons court is way better than a night in jail, but it carries its own consequences, including mandatory court fees, fines, costly legal services and court appearances that require time away from work and school. Worse yet, a missed court appearance or failure to pay a fine means an arrest warrant."

Lieberman also told local radio 1010 WINS that there is a potential downside to the new policy. Summonses rather than arrests could make it "hard to document the racial impact of a policy if you don't have the data... We know that marijuana smoking and possession is really as much a white offense as it is by people of color. When somebody gets a summons, we don't know the race of the person who is summoned." Lieberman is calling for state legislation that would require such stats for those receiving a summons as well. "It's really important that we get full transparency about who is being subjected to summonses," she said.

Cross-post to High Times

 

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NYC council speaker out of the closet

Global Ganja Report's picture

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Comment by Global Ganja Report on Nov 13th, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Suicide as Brooklyn factory grow-op discovered

Global Ganja Report's picture

Brooklyn-based Maraschino Cherry factory owner Arthur Mondella fatally shot himself Feb. 24 after authorities discovered a massive marijuana-growing operation on the premises. Authorities were investigating accusations that Dell’s Maraschino Cherries was illegally dumping hazardous waste, and Mondella had been cooperating. During the inspection, investigators began to smell marijuana and found a door hidden behind shelves leading to a dug-out cave where the odor was originating. Sources say at that point, Mondella asked to use the restroom, walked off alone and shouted to his sister ‘Take care of my kids.” The 57-year-old proceeded to take his own life with a single gunshot. Inside the cave, authorities reportedly uncovered 80 pounds of marijuana and a massive amount of cash. A follow-up search warrant led authorities to an underground facility. A Porsche, a Rolls Royce and a Harley-Davidson were also found hidden in the underground chamber. (HT)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Feb 27th, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Bratton blasts cannabis —illogically

Bill Weinberg's picture

New York City homicides climbed by 20 percent and shootings by nearly 25 percent in the first two months of 2015—spikes Police Commissioner William Bratton partially blamed on dealers fighting over "marijuana, a seemingly innocent drug that is being legalized around the country." (Newsday, March 2) Bill, do you ever think before you talk? Even assuming the spike is related to gunplay between pot dealers (we'd like to see the evidence), that is because of the plant's illegality—not anything intrinsic to it. How stupid do you think we are?

Comment by Bill Weinberg on Mar 4th, 2015 at 1:20 am

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