New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that most residents who are caught lighting up in public won’t be arrested starting in September. The announcement comes 30 days after he ordered the NYPD to reconsider how it goes about handling weed in the city. Is legalization upon us?
Perhaps, but the key word here is “most”—as in most residents will only have to pay a $100 fine if caught blazing out in the open. If you’ve got a warrant out for your arrest, have recently been arrested for a violent crime, are on parole or probation, or don’t have an ID on you, however, you could still end up in the back of a cop car.
Additionally, if a cop feels like you’re putting folks in danger, “say, by lighting up behind the wheel, or while riding public transit,” best believe they can still be arrested, VICE notes. If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem odds stack up so well for a particular part of the population. In NYC, Black folks are arrested on low-level marijuana charges eight times as much as white folks.
ICYMI, Cynthia Nixon touched upon this point in a recent CASSIUS op-ed, where she stressed the importance of marijuana equity and racial justice.
“One major way that New York and our country can right our wrongs is by expunging people’s records and following models similar to those created in places like Oakland, which sets aside half of its marijuana licenses for low-income residents who have been convicted of a marijuana-related crime or who live in a community targeted by the drug war,” she said.
She then went on to address how the war on drugs criminalized addiction and targeted Black and Latino communities.
“There must be an end to mass incarceration, and the legalization of marijuana is but one of the many critical steps we must take in order to do so,” she added.
Despite what we know from history, this will hopefully still be a step in a better direction. According to VICE, de Blasio says the forthcoming policy should cut the number of weed-related arrests by about 10,000 per year across the city. There were close to 17,500 weed-related arrests in NYC last year.
Sticky Green is CASSIUS’ hub for all things weed. Want to spark up an idea? Pitch Stephanie Long at slong(at)ionedigital(dot)com.