September 11, 2018, Brooklyn
For past few months, a movement to decriminalize minor cannabis offenses has been going in New York City. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are in the process of making significant changes how non-violent cannabis offenses are handled in the criminal justice system.
Last week, the New York City Police Department put a policy amendment into effect that would make the life of cannabis consumers a lot easier. As per new NYPD guideline, officers can’t automatically arrest people smoking in public spaces.
Following the suit of law enforcement changes on the streets, District attorneys from different boroughs are also working along with prosecutors to expunge non-violent cases involving a small amount of cannabis. Eric Gonzalez, District Attorney of Brooklyn, has already started the process to discharge hundreds and thousands of past cannabis convictions.
District attorneys are at the helm of cannabis decriminalization in NYC
In New York City, the appointment of district attorney is done by the voters. It is worth mentioning that all five elected district attorneys in NYC are Democrats and two of them are proactively working to decriminalize the strain. District attorneys of Brooklyn and Manhattan have ordered the respective prosecutors to drop all those cases where defendants are only accused of the possession of a minor amount of cannabis.
However, this decriminalization is only relevant and limited to the ongoing marijuana cases. But after NYPD’s policy overhaul regarding marijuana arrests, Brooklyn’s DA has announced an expungement policy for the past cannabis convictions. It is identical to expungement measures that are usually adopted by the states after the legalization of the strain.
The expungement of past cannabis convictions in Brooklyn will take the traditional path where the prosecutor has to consent the request of dismissal and then the judge will give the ruling to approve it. According to the criminal record of the borough, around 20,000 past marijuana convictions from the last 30 years are eligible for the expungement.
Cannabis advocates have applauded Gonzales’s ballsy decision to decriminalize marijuana because such expungement is only taken into effect after the adult-use legalization of the strain. On the other hand, prohibitionists are lambasting the decision. They think that the expungement will let many criminals off the hook.
The no-arrest policy will have a significant impact
After the implementation of new policy, NYPD officers will only issue a court summons to people who are caught smoking or possessing more than 25 grams of the strain. In short, one will be summoned and receive a fine if gets caught smoking cannabis in NYC. However, officers will still arrest those with an open warrant, or the ones already on probation or parole.
City officials are expecting that the implementation of the new policy will result in nearly 10,000 fewer arrests annually. This will definitely lessen the burden on the already strained criminal justice system. Experts are of the belief that the decision of two DA offices to not prosecute minor cannabis charges has also left no incentive for NYPD officers to arrest people for smoking pot.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]