NYC Pot Policy: NYPD to Issue Summonses Instead of Arresting

Most New Yorkers caught smoking marijuana will face criminal summonses instead of being arrested under a new city policy announced by the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday.

The change in policy, which de Blasio called for in May, comes after Commissioner James O’Neill convened a 30-day task force to review the department’s enforcement. The creation of the task force was sparked by data showing that people of color in predominantly minority neighborhoods are arrested on marijuana charges at much higher rates than those in largely white communities.

The new enforcement plan will be in effect by Sept. 1, the mayor’s office said, but there are several exceptions. People could still be arrested for smoking pot if:

  • they are on parole or probation
  • they have existing criminal warrants
  • they don’t have identification
  • they have a recent documented history of violence
  • their smoking poses a public safety risk, such as while driving a car.

The city will also issue reports on marijuana arrests and summonses by race and borough to track trends.

The plan comes a day after the state health department said it supports legalization of marijuana. De Blasio has said he is not a proponent of legalization, but believes it is “likely.”

“With marijuana legalization likely to occur in our state in the near future, it is critical our city plans for the public safety, health, and financial consequences involved,” he said in a statement last month.

A Mayoral Task Force, also announced Tuesday, will make recommendations for regulating pot use in preparation for the possibility of state legalization. A report will be released in 2019, the mayor’s office said.

By Nicole Brown With Nicholas Loffredo and Alison Fox [AMNY]