New York City has recently, finally, taken a huge step away from its established, strict marijuana laws with an announcement that it will now handle low level cannabis possession arrests more like they would a parking violation rather than as a serious crime. The fact that you can actually go to prison for possessing something that grows from the Earth is completely absurd in my opinion, so this news is very exciting, it means we are one step closer to being able to freely and openly make our own decisions!
Before this announcement was made the marijuana related arrest rates in the city had been heavily climbing and therefore filling crowded jails –and even prisons, with nonviolent marijuana users.
The new policy, which was announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, stated that people caught with a small amount of cannabis will receive a mere summons to court and will not be taken into custody by the police. Even though at this point it isn’t entirely clear how these new –much needed -regulations will come into effect, this is most certainly an important step towards these much needed reforms and a step in the right direction.
How Will This Effect The Average Marijuana User?
Statistics that were gathered by the Criminal Justice Agency and then reported by the New York Times stated that in 2012 more than half of the individuals arrested for marijuana possession were released within a few hours, after being processed, fingerprinted and given a ticket with an invitation to court in 6-8 weeks. The rest of those arrested were held for up to 24 hours. This process left the individuals with an arrest record that could potentially cost them future job and travel endeavors. This seems a bit extreme, for just a little bit of pot, what do you think?
Now, once the new policies are fully implemented these minor cannabis possession violations will be treated like parking or speeding tickets. According to Bloomberg, for possession of 25 grams (a little under an ounce) or less, there will be no arrest, no criminal charges, no fingerprinting, no mug shot and rightfully so, no criminal record.
The Absurd Laws Of The Past Are Finally Starting To Crumble
This change in New York Law Enforcement is following a nationwide trend of legalization and decriminalization. Four states (Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington) and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana to smoke, buy and posses and 19 states have legalized medical marijuana.
When polled, more than half of U.S. citizens think that marijuana should be legal.
At this point, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commisioner Bratton are both in opposition to the legalization of marijuana, although de Blasio has said that he is interested in learning about the experiences from the states that have legalized it.
At a recent press conference Bratton stated: “Don’t smoke it. Don’t carry it. Don’t use it. It’s still against the law, I’m not giving out get-out-of-jail-for-free cards.” Which is absolutely right, he won’t because you won’t go to jail.
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