This June, the office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark was granted the motion to have 6,089 misdemeanors related to the sale or possession of marijuana. That number included “2,441 summonses, 1,998 pending cases with 1,974 open warrants, and 1,650 cases in which a plea was entered, and there is an open warrant based upon the failure to complete a sentence.”

In December 2017, DA Clark and Judge George Grasso launched The Overdose Avoidance and Recovery Program, a voluntary six-week program that offers Bronx residents the option of treatment instead of jail time for minor drug-related offenses. “The Legislature has decriminalized the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana to right the wrong of disproportionate enforcement and arrests in communities of color like the Bronx,” Clark said in a statement released on Thursday.

“We had long stopped prosecuting these offenses,” Clark continued, “because they were not a threat to public safety, and they gave people a criminal record that had negative collateral consequences on employment, housing, education, and immigration.”

According to WPIX, NYPD data revealed that 94% of marijuana arrests last year happened to people of color. Although the city’s population is about one-quarter Black and three-tenths Hispanic, Black people comprised 57% of those arrested, while the Latino population constituted another 35.6%.

Administrative Judge George Grasso called the occasion “a historic day in Bronx Criminal Court… This means that thousands of individuals (many who are young people of color) can now go about their business without being under the cloud of a criminal matter. I take pride in our Court’s continuing partnership with the Office of the District Attorney and the Defense Bar in our efforts to effect fair and impartial justice in Bronx County!”

“We thank DA Darcel Clark for agreeing to dismiss thousands of marijuana cases for expungable offenses,” said Peter Jones, Attorney-In-Charge of the Bronx Trial Office at The Legal Aid Society, “and appreciate her recognition that continued prosecution for matters that have been legalized is unjust. For decades, our clients shouldered the brunt of marijuana prohibition, losing years of their lives ensnared in the criminal legal system and denied meaningful employment, housing, and other opportunities. These dismissals are critical for our clients, the majority from communities of color, who can now move on with their lives.”