Manhattan DA says he'll stop prosecuting pot possession

As the city and district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn are moving toward easing the way they enforce marijuana laws the Island's District Attorney Michael Mc Mahon has declined to take a position on the issue

The NYPD announced a working group to study charges that there is racial profiling when it comes to NYPD enforcement of marijuana offenses, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that as of August 1, his office will no longer prosecute people who are arrested for smoking or possessing marijuana.

Defense lawyers have questioned why the policies under consideration carve out exceptions for people with criminal histories.

The move comes after The New York Times reported on the persistent racial gap in marijuana arrests.

Defense lawyers have also expressed concern that giving prosecutors discretion to decide what constitutes a public nuisance would let them continue prosecuting many cases.

"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", Vance said in a press release.

Recognizing the racial disparities inherent in enforcement and negative collateral consequences for those charged, Vance has advocated for the statutory decriminalization of marijuana possession since 2012.

De Blasio hinted at the policy change during a conference earlier Tuesday, announcing that the New York Police Department would "overhaul" its policies on enforcing marijuana cases in the next 30 days.

The Manhattan DA's office is working with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NY police commissioner to establish when exceptions to the new policy might be necessary.

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Last week, Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger were joined by organizations and groups dedicated to criminal justice reform, civil rights, and public health as they stood in support of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), a bill that would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. "When people's lives are being upended for carrying a small amount of pot, something is wrong with our criminal justice system".

Today's announcement marks the culmination of six months of research and policy analysis, including extensive, in-person interviews with law enforcement officials in jurisdictions where marijuana is no longer criminally prosecuted.

A City Council study found that in 2017, 86 percent of people arrested for low-level marijuana possession were black and Hispanic and less than 9 percent were white.

"This is not what our city is about", Johnson added.

Vance said it's part of a new effort to reduce inequality and unnecessary interactions with the criminal justice system. We are here today to say that we have had enough.

Low-level marijuana cases are better dealt with summonses than arrests, his successor, Eric Gonzalez, said Thursday.

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. So when it's smoked in public, how do you handle it?

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