Minorities make up 90 percent of NYC marijuana busts, despite policy change

Mike Montone
January 08, 2019 - 10:58 am
Macro shot of a dired marijuana bud with crystalline structures

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Despite a drop in marijuana arrests, minorities are still getting burned.

That's according to recent figures from the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.

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Figures show 89 percent of New Yorkers arrested for smoking last year were either black or Hispanic, while only 7 percent were white.

"People of color are over-policed and disproportionately brought into the criminal justice system for low-level offenses," City Councilman Rory Lancman said.

As of November 23, the number of pot busts in the city dropped from 17,121 to 7,348.

The de Blasio administration says they're working on it, but reducing the racial disparity will take time, the Daily News reported.

"This administration has taken a dead aim at disparity by dramatically reducing marijuana arrests, and developing a plan for legalization that aims to right historic wrongs," said mayoral spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie. "But it's naïve to think that an issue as old and complex as this can be unraveled and solved by the snap of anyone's fingers."

Lapeyroleire said it could take years to rectify the problem.

"It'll be a challenge that this administration, the next administration and those who follow will have to constantly focus on — and we will continue to do so," she said.

Lancman said that while public marijuana smoking is no longer met with arrest, minorities are still being affected. Those caught smoking, who are also wanted for a crime, on parole or probation, or have violent crimes on their record can still be arrested.

"We've created a world where a stunning number of people of color have some criminal justice involvement," he said. "The pool of people who are going to get arrested are more heavily black and Latino to begin with."

While the NYPD maintains that officers don't respond to complaints with racial bias, Lancman says their tactics have been part of the problem.

"We are policing marijuana use in communities of color more aggressively than we are in white communities," he said. "That has not changed."

He said policies like stop and frisk, broken windows, and marijuana policing have allowed cops to 'reach into the lives of brown and black people.'