Tag: Decriminalization

In Bid to Defend Marijuana Arrests, NYC Mayor de Blasio Attacks Drug Reformers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case/Flickr)

Last month, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a report noting that marijuana arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by shocking racial disparities, much as they were under his predecessors, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Stung by the criticism, de Blasio is fighting back, but his response so far has consisted of attacking DPA as “legalizers” and comparing apples to oranges.

The DPA report, Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York, noted that while marijuana possession arrests are down under de Blasio from the grotesque numbers achieved under Giuliani (more than 40,000 arrests in 2001) or Bloomberg (more than 50,000 arrests in 2011), NYPD still arrested made more than 18,000 of them last year. A whopping 86% of them were black or brown, maintaining the racial disparities so apparent in earlier administrations.

That’s “a far cry from the Mayor’s pledge to rein in NYPD’s targeting of people of color,” charged DPA New York State Director Kassandra Frederique in the report. That de Blasio had managed to bring pot arrests down to an average of only 20,000 a year during his tenure shouldn’t be portrayed as progress, argued Frederique, instead describing it as “slower injustice, but slower injustice is still injustice delivered.”

De Blasio struck back last Friday, releasing a statement that called the DPA report “misleading” and attacked DPA as “a group committed to legalization.” De Blasio’s statement emphasized that marijuana arrests had dropped significantly under his administration — something DPA never disputed — but failed to address the claim of continuing racial disparities in arrests. Instead, it merely noted that because arrests were down overall, arrests of black and brown people were down, too.

But the takeaway sentence in de Blasio’s statement inadvertently makes DPA’s case:

As a result of this new policy, arrests for marijuana possession are down 37%  — from almost 29,000 in 2013 to approximately 18,000 in 2016. This has translated into approximately 9,600 fewer arrests of Black and Latino New Yorkers for marijuana possession in 2016 as compared to 2013.

In other words, a reduction of less than 11,000 total marijuana arrests between the two years resulted in about 9,600 people of color not being arrested. De Blasio’s own data and arguments show that the city’s minorities clearly take the brunt of marijuana law enforcement, his wriggling notwithstanding.

And now, DPA is returning fire at de Blasio.

“Mayor de Blasio is not disputing the data published in our report, he is trying to spin his poor record to look as though he has made some progress,” Frederique said Friday. “In reality, New York City was the marijuana arrest capital of the world under Bloomberg and still holds that dubious title under de Blasio today. The 18,000 arrests in 2016 alone and outrageous racial disparities are a disgrace to the city and a blight on the mayor’s record. The unjust and racially-targeted arrests are devastating black and Latino communities across the city.”

Frederique also applied some political ju-jitsu to de Blasio’s “legalizer” attack.

“The mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us legalizers, is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record. Our report is based on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests,” she said. “For the record, the Drug Policy Alliance is committed to marijuana legalization to increase access for patients and end targeted policing in communities of color. And we’re not alone; nearly 60% of Americans also support legalization.”

Instead of attacking critics, the mayor should fix the problem, Frederique added.

“It’s time for the mayor to get out of the spin cycle and back to work,” she prescribed. “The mayor must end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young black and Latino New Yorkers now.”


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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Advocates to De Blasio: Address Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case/Flickr)

NEW YORK, NY — New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office published a statement this week disputing the findings of the Drug Policy Alliance report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York.”

The report details that marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio continue to be marked by extremely high racial disparities, as was the case under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations.

Drug Policy Alliance New York State Director Kassandra Frederique issued the following statement in response:

Mayor de Blasio is not disputing the data published in our report, he is trying to spin his poor record to look as though he has made some progress.

In reality, New York City was the marijuana arrest capital of the world under Bloomberg and still holds that dubious title under de Blasio today.

The 18,000 arrests in 2016 alone and outrageous racial disparities are a disgrace to the city and a blight on the mayor’s record.

The unjust and racially-targeted arrests are devastating Black and Latino communities across the city.

The mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us legalizers, is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record. Our report is based on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests.

For the record, the Drug Policy Alliance is committed to marijuana legalization to increase access for patients and end targeted policing in communities of color. And we’re not alone; nearly 60 percent of Americans also support legalization.

It’s time for the mayor to get out of the spin cycle and back to work. Over the past two decades, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably damaged by racially-targeted marijuana arrest policies.

The mayor must end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers now.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Virginia Crime Commission Wants Public Comment on Marijuana Decriminalization

RICHMOND, VA — Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission are seeking written comments from the public with regard to the topic of decriminalizing marijuana possession.

The commission is studying the issue at the request of Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, who tasked members to “undertake a study examining a future change to the Code of Virginia regarding criminal penalties related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

Members of the public may submit written comments to vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov until August 25, 2017.

The commission’s findings will be presented on October 5.

“Virginia lawmakers will now be able to introduce decriminalization in the General Assembly supported with the facts and conclusions of the decriminalization study,” representatives from Virginia NORML, who pushed for the task force, said in a statement.

Under Virginia law, the possession of one-half ounce of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The number of Virginians arrested for violating the state’s marijuana possession laws rose 76 percent between 2003 and 2014.

African Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data published earlier this year.

Two proposals to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia failed to advance in the state legislature earlier this year.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Another City in Pennsylvania Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

YORK, PA — Another city in Pennsylvania has voted to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a fine-only offense.

Earlier this week, the York City Council voted to decriminalize the possession of under 30 grams of marijuana, reducing the penalty to a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time for first-time offenders.

A second offense within five years would result in a fine of $300, with a third carrying a $600 fine.  For those that can not afford to pay the fines, there is an option for offenders to perform community service instead.

Under state law, marijuana possession is a criminal misdemeanor that carried up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

York joins three of Pennsylvania’s largest cities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg — in reducing penalties for simple marijuana possession, adding support to advocates who are pushing for statewide decriminalization, a policy change that is supported by Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

Pennsylvania residents can contact their elected officials in Harrisburg via an email campaign set up by the Marijuana Policy Project. Those looking to become more active in reform efforts in the state can contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition for more information.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Signed Into Law

CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu has signed legislation decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 640, which takes effect in 60 days, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis and/or up to five grams of hashish for those age 18 or older.

Under the new law, first time offenders will receive a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Presently, first-time marijuana possession is punishable by up to one year in prison, a potential $2,000 fine, and a criminal record.

“New Hampshire now will finally join the chorus of states that recognize the baseline level of dignity for it’s citizens and tourists who choose to consume marijuana,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “Soon, throughout New England, individuals will be able to freely travel without the threat of jail time for possession of marijuana.”

New Hampshire is the only New England state that presently treats minor possession offenses as a criminal offense.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Just Decriminalized Cannabis Possession

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday signed a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession, removing criminal penalties for having up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis or up to five grams of hash.

With the law’s passage, all of New England has now a decriminalized cannabis, as Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell noted on Twitter.

But if you’re trying to celebrate with a bit of cannabis, don’t risk it just yet. Decriminalization doesn’t take effect for 60 days.

Supporters argue that the change will ensure young people’s lives aren’t ruined by getting caught with marijuana. Opponents have argued that decriminalization sends the wrong message as the state battles a drug crisis.

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The new law makes possessing the cannabis a violation-level offense with a fine of up to $300 for adults. Minors caught with either would be subject to a delinquency petition. Someone can be charged with a misdemeanor, however, if they are found with marijuana for a fourth time within a three-year period.

It also says police cannot arrest someone for a cannabis violation. Any money collected from fines under the law will go into a fund aimed at alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment.

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In May, Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have legalized cannabis possession and cultivation in that state. Maine and Massachusetts voters approved legalization in ballot measures last year.

The Associated Press contributed this report.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Gov. Chris Sununu

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu

CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill into law Tuesday that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Granite State.

The new law will officially take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.

“A lot of credit also goes to the House, which has been passing decriminalization bills since 2008,” Simon said. “It is refreshing to see the Senate finally come to an agreement with the House on this issue. This is a big step toward a more sensible marijuana policy for New Hampshire.”

HB 640 was introduced by Rep. Renny Cushing and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, where it received overwhelming approval in February (318-36). The Senate amended and approved it on May 11 (17-6), and the House passed the Senate version by a voice vote on June 1.

HB 640 will reduce the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor — currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 — to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense. A fourth offense within three years of the first offense could be charged as a class B misdemeanor, but there would be no arrest or possibility of jail time.

“There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and Granite Staters are ready to see it treated that way. A very strong majority of state residents support ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

“New Hampshire lawmakers should continue to follow their constituents’ lead on this issue,” Simon said. “Every state in New England is either implementing or strongly considering legislation to regulate marijuana for adult use. It is time for the Legislature to develop a realistic marijuana prohibition exit strategy for New Hampshire.”

More than two-thirds of New Hampshire adults (68%) support making marijuana legal, according to a Granite State Poll released last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York City: Minorities Still Arrested Disproportionately for Marijuana Violations

NEW YORK, NY — Eighty-seven percent of low level marijuana arrestees in New York City are either African Americans or Latinos, according to an analysis compiled by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and published this week by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Researchers reported that New York City police officers made more than 60,000 arrests for minor marijuana violations during the first three years of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration (2014-2016) – even though he had previously called the practice “unjust and wrong.”

Of those arrested during this period, 49 percent were black, 38 percent were Latino, nine percent were white, and four percent were classified as either Asian or ‘other.’

Similar racial disparities among low level marijuana arrests existed under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.

Authors concluded, “In 2016, and for the last 30 years, the NYPD has had two very different patterns or systems of enforcement by race and ethnicity for the criminal offense of possessing small amounts of marijuana – separate, unequal, and unjust.”

Recent reviews of marijuana possession arrest data from New JerseyMaryland, and Virginia have identified similar trends. A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.

Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is ‘open to public view’ as an arrestable offense.

Full text of the report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,” is available online.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Drug Policy Alliance: Time to Decriminalize, NYC Racial Disparities Remain

The Drug Policy Alliance, a leading advocacy group, released a report Tuesday calling for an end to criminal penalties for drug use and possession. Once considered a radical approach, the position in the DPA report has already won the endorsement of more than 30 organizations and key stakeholders. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Latino Justice PRLDEF, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and various others have backed the report’s call for decriminalization, a policy that essentially removes the threat of arrest or criminal penalties in cases of simple possession.

The widespread support for decriminalization comes at a crucial time, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions call for ramping up the war on drugs in the face of the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

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But despite the Trump administration’s shift toward more punative policies, Jag Davies, DPA’s communications director, said most Americans don’t realize how close to decriminalization many state policies already are.

“The US is closer to decriminalizing drugs than most people think, even in a red state like South Carolina,” he said on a conference call with reporters, noting that, in terms of public opinion, polls of presidential primary voters last year found that most support ending arrests for drug consumption and possession.

States included in the study were Maine (with 64% percent in favor of ending arrests), New Hampshire (66%), and South Carolina (59%).

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“Removing criminal penalties for drug use and possession will increase opportunities for people to get help,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the DPA’s senior director of national criminal justice strategy. “Today, people who need drug treatment or medical assistance may avoid it in order to hide their drug use.  If we decriminalize drugs, people can come out of the shadows and get the help they need.”

Extreme Racial Disparities Persist in New York Possession Arrests

The need to remove criminal penalties for cannabis consumption and possession persists in New York City, according to a second DPA report released today. It shows that arrests for marijuana possession under Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by high racial disparities.

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The report found that during the first three years of the De Blasio administration, the NYPD made more than 60,000 criminal arrests for cannabis possession. Nearly 86% of those arrests were of black or Latino individuals.

“We believe it’s time for a new approach, and that approach shouldn’t involve criminalizing New York’s most vulnerable populations.”

Alyssa Aguilera , co-executive director, Vocal NY

New York residents living in public housing constituted the single largest group of people arrested. Last year, in 2016, the NYPD housing police made 21% of the city’s 18,121 arrests for cannabis possession. Of those, 92% of arrests were of black or Latino residents.

The two groups make up about half the city’s population but account for 66% of the cannabis possession arrests. Of the city’s 76 neighborhood police precincts, black or Latino residents make up a majority in 37.

“Prohibition has played a significant role in devastating low-income communities of color through racially biased enforcement and has often come with steep collateral consequences,” said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of the community activist group Vocal NY. “We believe it’s time for a new approach, and that approach shouldn’t involve criminalizing New York’s most vulnerable populations.”

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The following groups and individuals have endorsed the Drug Policy Alliance’s report, “It’s Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession”:

  • A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • American Friends Service Committee Colorado
  • Broken No More
  • Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice
  • Center for Living and Learning
  • Centro Cáritas de Formación
  • Clergy for a New Drug Policy
  • Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
  • CURB Prison Spending
  • DanceSafe
  • Denver Justice Project
  • Drug Policy Australia
  • Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i
  • Drug Truth Network
  • Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP)
  • Harm Reduction Action Center
  • Harm Reduction Australia
  • Iglesia Evangélica Protestante de El Salvador
  • Intercambios Asociación Civil
  • International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
  • International Drug Policy Coalition
  • Junot Díaz
  • Latino Justice PRLDEF
  • Law Enforcement Action Partnership
  • Moms United to End the War on Drugs
  • National Advocates for Pregnant Women
  • New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • Progress Now NM
  • Protect Families First
  • Release
  • Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • StopTheDrugWar.org
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation
  • Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago
  • Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
  • Women With a Vision


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Tale of Two New Yorks as NYPD Continues Discriminatory Marijuana Arrests

NEW YORK, NY — The Marijuana Arrest Research Project will release a major report Tuesday, commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.

The report, Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York, shows that despite changing mayoral administrations and police commissioners, the NYPD continues to make large numbers of unjust and racially-targeted marijuana possession arrests.

Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promise to end racially-biased policing, marijuana possession was New York City’s fourth most commonly charged criminal offense in 2016.

Black and Latino New Yorkers continue to comprise 85 percent of the more than 60,000 people arrested for low-level marijuana possession on Mayor de Blasio’s watch. Most people arrested are young Blacks and Latinos – even though studies consistently show young Whites use marijuana at higher rates.

The new report shows that the NYPD targets Blacks and Latinos for marijuana misdemeanor enforcement all over New York City. One key finding is that in many neighborhoods where Blacks and Latinos constitute a small minority of the residents, they are arrested in much higher numbers than Whites.

The NYPD arrests Black New Yorkers at 10 times the rate of Whites in Manhattan and 15 times the rate of Whites in Staten Island.

The report includes extensive analyses of marijuana arrest data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and demographic data for all five boroughs.

The full report will be released at noon Tuesday.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.