New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today in his State of the City Address that marijuana possession will no longer lead to a night in jail.
The policy, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address early last month, will make possession of negligible amounts of the drug a violation, rather than a misdemeanor, the mayor said, effectively preventing the person in question from winding up with a criminal record.
“Those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana are often held in custody overnight. We’re changing that,” Bloomberg said. “Effective next month, anyone presenting an ID and clearing a warrant check will be released directly from the precinct with a desk appearance ticket to return to court. It’s consistent with the law, it’s the right thing to do and it will allow us to target police resources where they’re needed most.”
Several advocates applauded the mayor’s renewed stance on the issue, which disproportionately affects minority youths. They released statements praising the mayor’s tackling of the situation, as well as offering advice for the next steps to take.
“Mayor Bloomberg stopped defending the indefensible and now recognizes that we cannot afford to criminalize youth of color for carrying small amounts of marijuana,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, the Civil Rights Community Organizer for VOCAL-NY, an organization which advocates for low-income people affected by the drug war and mass incarceration.