A funny thing happened on the way to the new administration’s march towards removing New York City’s reputation as the marijuana arrest capital of the world: three years under Mayor de Blasio and the only people arrested of simple possession are still overwhelmingly black and brown.
Last month’s report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York” by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Project unveils a vexing problem for the city. The actual number of arrests for simple possession has gone down dramatically from the Mayor Bloomberg / Police Commissioner Kelly years – that’s the good news.
But the report painstakingly details the racialized nature of marijuana enforcement in the current administration, one that essentially mirrors the same pattern over decades. A full 86% of persons arrested for marijuana – over 52,000 – were black and Latino during the same time frame. Let’s close our eyes and pretend that whites don’t carry, purchase, sell, smoke, or openly smoke, marijuana in the Big Apple. Now open your eyes and face the reality that do so every day.