From arrest to arraignment, New York City law enforcement officials and prosecutors are making major changes to they way they handle minor, non-violent cannabis offenses. Over the weekend, the New York Police Department adopted a policy change that’s letting the city’s cannabis consumers breathe a little easier. As of Saturday, officers will no longer automatically arrest people for smoking marijuana in public. Echoing changes on the streets, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn are ordering prosecutors to drop cases involving minor cannabis use and possession. And in Brooklyn, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has opened a process to dismiss tens of thousands of past marijuana convictions.
New York City District Attorneys Spearhead Marijuana Decriminalization
District attorneys are elected officials. And in New York City, all five of them are Democrats. Two, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, have instructed their offices to stop prosecuting the majority of cases where defendants stand accused of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
But the “decline to prosecute” policy is only part of the two district attorneys’ plans to decriminalize cannabis in the court room. In step with criminal record expungement measures elsewhere in the country, Brooklyn DA Gonzalez announced Friday that people with