Starting Wednesday (8/1), most cases of marijuana smoking and possession in Manhattan won’t be prosecuted. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance released a new “decline to prosecute” policy for the D.A.’s office on Tuesday (7/31). Vance says:
Every day I ask our prosecutors to keep Manhattan safe and make our justice system more equal and fair. The needless criminalization of pot smoking frustrates this core mission, so we are removing ourselves from the equation. Our research has found virtually no public safety rationale for the ongoing arrest and prosecution of marijuana smoking, and no moral justification for the intolerable racial disparities that underlie enforcement. Tomorrow, our Office will exit a system wherein smoking a joint can ruin your job, your college application, or your immigration status, but our advocacy will continue. I urge New York lawmakers to legalize and regulate marijuana once and for all.
The full text of the new policy includes exceptions in the cases of sellers with “large quantities of marijuana individually packaged for sale (10 bags or more)” and for people who pose a “significant threat to public safety,” like “a defendant currently under active investigation for a violent offense or other serious crime.” They would still be subject to prosecution under the new policy. [Read more at Brooklyn Vegan]