WASHINGTON – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that the NYPD will be changing how it enforces marijuana laws as advocates complained that most of those getting arrested are minorities.
“The NYPD will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement in the next 30 days,” de Blasio said in Washington during a speech at the Center for American Progress’s Ideas Conference.
He said he wants New York City to be the safest and the fairest big city in America and the change was intended to address remaining inequalities.
“We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement,” de Blasio said. “It’s time for those to be a thing of the past in New York City and all over this country.”
Last year, 86 percent of those arrested for low-level marijuana possession in the five boroughs were black or Hispanic, according to statistics provided by the City Council.
De Blasio’s announcement came as Council Speaker Corey Johnson was holding a press conference with Al Sharpton at City Hall to demand an end to arrests for low-level marijuana offenses.
“I’m calling on the NYPD to instead of making arrests when someone is smoking pot, they should issue a summons – that’s a big difference,” said Johnson. “Instead of arresting someone, issue a summons — which is what they do now for low-level possession.”
De Blasio said he’d leave up the changes to the NYPD.
“My mandate to NYPD is come up with a new vision in the next 30 days so we can go right at those disparities,” de Blasio told CBS News later. “We don’t tolerate them. We don’t accept them. You shouldn’t have different arrest rates for different demographic communities.”
Public Advocate Letitia James praised de Blasio’s announcement as an important “first step.”
“While I continue to advocate for the legalization of marijuana in New York, I commend Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to studying the negative impacts of marijuana arrests in our neighborhoods,” James said.
De Blasio made the remarks at the liberal confab that featured a lineup of 2020 potential candidates, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Gillibrand was a big crowd pleaser with her remarks about women leading the resistance and the need for more females in power.
“If it wasn’t Lehman Brothers but Lehman Sisters we might not have had the financial collapse,” Gillibrand said.