Daily News: Where People Are Still Getting Arrested for Pot
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

The Daily News looks at where our clients are being arrested for marijuana possession, the overwhelming majority from communities of color.




NY Daily News
Where people are still getting arrested for pot
By Shayna Jacobs
September 8, 2017

As the city tries to cut the number of marijuana arrests, East Harlem and the Lower East Side have gone to pot.

The two Manhattan neighborhoods have the most low-level marijuana cases handled by the Legal Aid Society, from the beginning of the year through Aug. 11, the agency's data shows.

Also high on the list are Hell's Kitchen, Times Square and Morrisania in the Bronx.

Legal Aid took on 5,934 misdemeanor and violation pot cases from Jan. 1 to Aug. 11 — a slight decrease from the 6,180 it had during the same period last year, according to the agency.

City and police officials say there has been a nearly 40% drop in the number of marijuana arrests since 2014 as part of a policy shift by Mayor de Blasio's administration.

But critics say black and Hispanic New Yorkers are still unfairly targeted.

"This data shows that our clients from communities of color are still bearing the brunt of overzealous NYPD enforcement for marijuana possession," said Redmond Haskins, spokesman for Legal Aid.

"While these arrests are down since the height of stop-and-frisk, the profiling and disproportionate targeting of black and brown New Yorkers for low-level offenses of this kind remains alive and well."

Police are generally supposed to issue a summons — in lieu of arrest — to anyone caught with less than 25 grams if it's not in plain view.

Critics say police have arrested people for having pot in public only after demanding to see what's in a person's pockets.

A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio pointed to a 37% decrease in marijuana arrests from about 29,000 in 2013 to roughly 18,000 in 2016.

“The NYPD responds to quality of life offenses where and when they are observed, many of which are reported by members of the public,” said spokesman Austin Finan.

Lt. John Grimpel, a police spokesman, said pot arrest reform and other law enforcement strategies are improving the city.

"Whether it's this marijuana arrest policy, the addition of body cameras, or the launch of neighborhood policing, the reforms made by this administration are strengthening the relationship between police and community while keeping New York the safest big city in America," Grimpel said.



This article originally appeared on NY Daily News.