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Manhattan District Attorney to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases in August

Manhattan District Attorney to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases in August

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance released a separate statement announcing that his office will "decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases" starting August 1st. He said there will be a few exceptions.

"The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals", he said.

A New York Times analysis published Sunday revealed that in New York City, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white people over the past three years. The report said the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana.

The New York Police Department will overhaul its policies for enforcing pot laws in the next 30 days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, adding the city "must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement".

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O'Neill's announcement comes a day after he said the department is "addressing" a disparity in marijuana-related enforcement affecting minority New Yorkers during a City Council budget hearing.

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The legislation also ensures tax revenue generated from marijuana legalization is put to use repairing communities devastated by harsh enforcement of prohibition by directing revenue to fund job training, adult education, youth development programming, establish or expand community centers, bolster re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated, and otherwise support community-focused programming in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, in addition to education, public health, and drug treatment.

Tuesday's announcements suggest that NY ― a state now exploring the possibility of legalizing marijuana altogether, as other states have ― is starting to more forcefully tackle the disproportionate rates at which black people get arrested for marijuana, even though black and white people use marijuana at nearly the same rates, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. "The number of arrests in that precinct, the 76th Precinct, were 246 arrests".

De Blasio announced in November 2014 that the police would start giving many people court summonses for marijuana instead of arresting them.

In his speech Tuesday, de Blasio promised changes were coming.

De Blasio announced that over the next several months, the NYPD will be working to reform its cannabis enforcement policies.

Sharpton said the disparity was especially shocking in a city that proved that the crime rate could still be kept down after eliminating stop and frisk.

"The NYPD does not target people based on race or other demographics", O'Neill said, adding that officer observations and local complaints are among the reasons for arrests. Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left in the Democratic primary, has made marijuana legalization a central plank of her campaign platform.