New York: Big Apple Marijuana Arrests To Drop 20% In 2013

(Photo: The L Magazine)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York Legislature decriminalized marijuana in that state back in the 1970s. But simple marijuana possession is still the #1 cause of arrest in New York City, with 149,951 pot busts last year. What gives?

NYPD cops use the "public view" exception to the decrim law to trap people, that's what. Officers will misleadingly ask a suspect to "take the pot out of your pocket," and then bust them for "public display" of the weed, which ups what would have been a traffic ticket-like event into a violation with arrest and possible jail time.

More and more civil rights activists have noticed this disturbing phenomenon, and the NYPD is increasingly coming under pressure to stop its dishonest tactics when it comes to busting pot smokers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried last year to remove the "public view" provision in the criminal code last year, reports John Surico at the Village Voice, and even NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has asked his officers to back off with the pot arrests, already.

Happily, it seems this is finally starting to have an impact, 35 years after decrim.

According to data published by the New York Post, marijuana arrests will fall 20 percent this year, continuing an overall downward trend over the past few years. Since January, just more than 10,000 New Yorkers have been busted for weed -- which is still outrageous, but not quite as bad as last year's numbers at this time of year.

A source told the Post that cops may actually be moving their attention to dangerous drugs: "Let's just focus on pills and cocaine."

If Cuomo's attempt last year to stop the "public view" marijuana busts had been successful, almost 99 percent of NYC's 2012 pot arrests would never have happened, according to the Village Voice.

(Photo: The L Magazine)