MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN NEW YORK CITY
Information and News about New York City's Racially-Biased Marijuana Arrest Crusade
See the new website Marijuana-Arrests.Com for breaking news, columns, editorials, testimony, and
up-to-date information about stop and frisks, marijuana arrests beyond
Essential Information - (many items are pdf files and may take a moment to load)
to the New York State Senate Regarding Marijuana Arrests – June 2011 – new
Includes new data showing NYPD arrests by precinct and arrests in 13 counties and cites in NY State
A Year: The Cost of New York City's Marijuana Possession Arrests March 2011
Report released with the Drug Policy Alliance about the cost of arresting and prosecuting 50,000 people a year
Oped summary of arrests in NYC and other cities.
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) report, 100 pages, graphs and detailed description of the arrests, April 2008
Brief update of the above report with new graphs with 2008 data, and a table with 2009 arrests. Sept 2009, updated Jan 2010
Important News and Commentary in Print
Police have characterized marijuana arrests as important for keeping criminals off the street. But, in testimony submitted to the Legislature this summer, Professor Levine estimated that a significant majority of those arrested in 2010 had never been convicted of any crime, based on an analysis of data reported to the state. Young African-Americans and Hispanics, who are disproportionately singled-out in street stops, make up a high percentage of people arrested for marijuana possession — despite federal data showing that whites are more likely to consume marijuana. This policing practice has damaged young lives and deserves deeper scrutiny by federal and state monitors.
Much of what we know about the
racial discrepancy between marijuana use and marijuana arrests in
The Drug War: An effort meant to save us from a form of moral decay became its own insidious brand of moral perversion — turning people who should have been patients into prisoners, criminalizing victimless behavior, targeting those whose first offense was entering the world wrapped in the wrong skin. It feeds our achingly contradictory tendency toward prudery and our overwhelming thirst for punishment.
According to an analysis of these arrests by Harry Levine, another sociologist at the City University of New York, the New York Police Department under Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made more of these minor drug arrests than under his previous three predecessors combined. These targeting tactics mean that blacks are arrested for minor drug possession at seven times the rate of whites although on national surveys whites consistently say that they use marijuana more than blacks or Hispanics.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s recent chest-thumping against the California ballot initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana underscores how the war on drugs in this country has become a war focused on marijuana, one being waged primarily against minorities and promoted, fueled and financed primarily by Democratic politicians.... This is outrageous and immoral and the Democrat’s complicity is unconscionable, particularly for a party that likes to promote its social justice bona fides. No one knows all the repercussions of legalizing marijuana, but it is clear that criminalizing it has made it a life-ruining racial weapon. When will politicians have the courage to stand up, acknowledge this fact and stop allowing young minority men to be collateral damage?
On average last
year, someone was arrested every 10 minutes in
More people are arrested in
No city in the
world arrests more of its citizens for using pot than
This month, the Drug Policy Alliance — a New York group that is supporting Proposition 19 — released a study showing that blacks were arrested for possession at far higher rates than whites in California’s 25 largest counties, often two or three times higher. In those 25 counties, blacks make up 7 percent of the population but accounted for 20 percent of the marijuana possession arrests; in Los Angeles County, which accounts for about a quarter of the state’s population, blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at three times the rate of whites.
Last year, black New Yorkers were seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession and no more serious crime. Latinos were four times more likely.
In 2008, the police made more pot arrests “than in the 12 years of Mayor Koch, plus the four years of Mayor Dinkins, plus the first two years of Mayor Giuliani,” Mr. Levine wrote. “In other words, in one year, 2008, Bloomberg made more pot arrests than in 18 years of Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.”
On the one hand, marijuana is practically legal – more mainstream, accessorized, and taken for granted than ever before.
On the other, kids are getting busted in the city in record numbers. Guess which kids.
With pot as popular as ever, cops are busting NYers at record levels.
An excerpt from City Limits Magazine's excellent whole issue on 40 years of the drug war on NY City. The issue can be purchased: here.
New report released with California NAACP about arrests of blacks for marijuana possession in 25 California cities where blacks are arrests at 4, 6, 8 and even 12 times the rate of whites.
New report released with
Latino civil rights organization about the disproportionate arrests of Latinos
for marijuana possession in 33
Blacks For Marijuana: Possession Arrests in California, 2004-08 - June-July
New report released in conjunction with the California NAACP about arrests of blacks for marijuana possession in the 25 largest counties in California.
This is the first major statement by a civil right leader insisting that racially-biased marijuana possession arrests are a civil rights issue.
News Articles, Only On The Web
The number of stop-and-frisks by NYPD have
exploded over the past decade, increasing from less than 100,000 in 2002 to
581,000 in 2009. The NYPD's own numbers show that 90% of the people stopped are
non-white and that 85% of those stopped are not charged with any crime. Despite
their innocence, police enter personal information about all of those stopped
into their police database system.... But there's another destructive
consequence of the stop-and-frisk policy that has not received enough
attention: it has made
The struggle to end
While it is clear that drug use doesn't
discriminate and the majority of us are using one drug or another, the reality
is that the war on drug users does discriminate. More than 1.8 million people
are arrested every year on nonviolent drug charges. In
NYC Magazine (website), "NYC Wastes Tens of Millions on Pot Arrests, 12% of All Arrests Are Marijuana Charges" By Igor Derysh on December 25th, 2009. For all the talk about crime statistics in New York City, the irony of all ironies is that the taxpayer is charged tens of millions of dollars every year so that cops can arrest people for pot
It's no shocker that the vast majority of marijuana arrests in NYC ensnare blacks and Latinos. But what's really incredible is how high the number of pot arrests have risen during Mayor Bloomberg's first two terms.
The NYPD stop-and-frisk program has made New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the country.
Actor Matt Damon supports Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid for re-election. But what may not be clear to Matt Damon, an admitted marijuana user, is that despite the mayor's "moderate" and "independent" reputation Bloomberg is a full-fledged drug warrior.
York Times (website), "Drug Science, 1937-2009" by John Tierney, Sept 18, 2009
New York Magazine’s article on marijuana includes an interesting bit of scientific history. After noting that Mayor Bloomberg has presided over more marijuana arrests than any mayor anywhere, Mark Jacobson writes...
New York Daily News (website),
"Stop The War On Pot Users" by
Tony Newman, Aug 24, 2009
What do President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have in common? They are all elected officials who have admitted to smoking marijuana.
In 1993, there were only 900 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, while 40,000 people were arrested in 2008 – mostly young Black and Latino men.
possession is legally decriminalized in
TV, Video and Radio Coverage
RNN-TV did a 15 minute segment devoted to the marijuana arrests in NY City and it is in three parts on you tube. Includes interviews with public defenders from the
NYCLU 5 minute video of press conference about the epidemic of marijuana arrests in New York City including black police, public defenders, nyclu staff. New York City's Marijuana Arrest Crusade
Latino USA (NPR) 5 minute radio interview on NPR show about drug wars in Mexico, marijuana prohibition, and marijuana possession arrests of black and Latino youth (excellent) Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa
Other Media Coverage of Marijuana Arrests
I am in favor of sensible regulation rather than prohibition because I am pro-life. I want to end drug prohibition because I want to keep people from getting HIV by allowing them access to clean syringes. I want to end the prohibition of drugs because I want to reduce people dying from drug overdoses. I am pro-regulation because it saddens me to read about 20,000 Mexicans being killed over the last three years because of drug prohibition. I want people who have drug problems to get treatment and help and not be locked up in a cage for 10 years - that does nothing to help them and makes their children's and loved ones lives more miserable.
The war on drugs will be on the ballot in
First person account by a young man, currently serving
Pot is indeed flourishing in the mainstream as never before, but the sometimes giddy discussion overlooks a sinister parallel phenomenon: More people are being arrested for pot crimes than ever; they are increasingly young and disproportionately nonwhite.
LATimes Online, "The Racism of
Marijuana Prohibition" by Stephen Gutwillig, Sept 7, 2009
Enforcement of marijuana laws disproportionately affects young African Americans -- even though their usage rates are lower than whites.
Marijuana accounted for about half of all drug arrests, and nine out of 10 pot arrests were for simple possession, as opposed to cultivation or sale.
It's not just that Michael Phelps did what millions of other twenty-somethings do; it's that he did what over one hundred million Americans have done at least once in their lives, including the president, former presidents, members of the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court, and a significant proportion of the country's most distinguished businessmen, scholars, artists, entertainers and leaders.
By age 25, 54 percent of the population has admittedly used marijuana. Does anyone still believe that marijuana prohibition is working — or that all of these people deserve to be behind bars?
NY Times, Newsday, NY Daily News, Reason, and many others write about