Why Is New York City Arresting Fewer Pot Smokers?

Why Is New York City Arresting Fewer Pot Smokers?

Marijuana is illegal in New York, and while smoking pot in the Big Apple can get you arrested, a change in policy is letting more and more people smoke weed worry-free.

The shift in policy can be traced to the amount of paperwork police officers have to complete following arrests. In 2017, for example, roughly 19,000 people were arrested in New York City for marijuana possession or smoking. The reduction in the number of arrests is expected to save officers thousands of hours of paperwork — hours that can then be used on other cases.

Many pot smokers who would have been arrested before the policy will be issued summonses instead. Others — especially those with outstanding warrants, those who are on parole or probation, or anyone who is considered violent — could still be arrested. Driving while high will also get you arrested, as will failing to show identification.

Could New York soon legalize weed?

Not only is New York cutting back on the number of pot-related arrests, but Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is apparently “working on a process to seal the records of thousands of people with marijuana-related convictions,” thus providing these residents with a better chance of finding jobs or housing. After the policy change on marijuana arrests, this could be a second step toward legalization of recreational marijuana in New York.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has also said a few things that makes us believe that New York might be taking steps towards legalizing weed. He said that “the situation on marijuana is changing,” that details must be worked out, and that a full program must be created. While he didn’t openly voice his support for legalization, it’s clear that he’s at least thinking about it.

In addition, the state’s Health Department issued a report with arguments for and against legalization, concluding that New York “should have a regulated market.”

Despite the positive progress, it important to note that smoking marijuana in New York is still technically illegal, and we can recommend it’s use while there.