AN ONLINE LIBRARY ABOUT MARIJUANA POSSESSION ARRESTS,
RACE AND POLICE POLICY IN NEW YORK CITY AND BEYOND
• U.S. MARIJUANA ARRESTS 1965-2013
Source: Click here for tables with full source information.
REPORTS AND TESTIMONY BY THE MARIJUANA ARREST RESEARCH PROJECT
Bloomberg's Marijuana Arrest Crusade is ...
Police Stops, Illegal Searches, And Marijuana
Testimony by Harry Levine to the New York City Council – June 2012
Regarding proposed legislation with photos of illegal police searches and discussion of the summons court system which will handle the decriminalized marijuana possession charges.
$75 Million A Year: The Cost of New York City's Marijuana Possession Arrests
Includes new data showing NYPD arrests by precinct and arrests in 13 counties and cites in NY State
by Harry G. Levine & Deborah P. Small.
The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City, by Harry G. Levine,
Alternet.org – Aug 2009
Brief update of the above report with new graphs and data. Sept 2009, updated Jan 2010
Arrests in New York City
• In New York City for over ten years, 87% of the people arrested for marijuana possession have been blacks and Latinos. The New York Police Department has arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites, and has arrested Latinos at nearly four times the rate of whites. Yet, U.S. government studies have consistently found that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks or Latinos.
• In 2010 and 2011 the NYPD made 50,000 marijuana possession arrests, more than in any year in over a decade. In 2012 police made nearly 40,000, down from 2012 because the stop and frisks are down the exact same percentage (22%). Since 2002, when Bloomberg became Mayor, the NYPD has made 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. Year after year, New York City makes more marijuana possession arrests and jailings than any city in the world.
• In 2012, the NYPD again arrested and jailed more people for possessing a small amount of marijuana than for any other crime. In recent years, one out of every seven arrests in New York City for anything was for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
• It now costs New York City at least $75 million dollars a year to arrest and jail people simply for possessing marijuana.
Most people arrested for lowest-level marijuana possession in New York City are young: 23% of the
people arrested are
teenagers; 55% are under 25 years of age; and 68% are under 30 years of
• The marijuana arrests target people
who have never been convicted or even arrested before. Of the hundreds of
thousands of people
arrested for marijuana possession in New York City: 30% had never
been arrested before for anything; another 41% had never been convicted or
plead guilty to anything, not even a misdemeanor. Mostly the charges were
dismissed or dropped. In other words, 71% of the people arrested for
marijuana possession had never been convicted of any crime whatsoever.
Another 11% had a previous conviction only for a misdemeanor.
• Since 1977 and the passage of the Marijuana Reform Act by the state legislature, the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana (7/8th of an ounce) has NOT been a crime in New York State. Under New York State law, possession of a less than an ounce of marijuana is a violation, like a traffic violation.
• Most people arrested for marijuana in New York City were not smoking marijuana or did not have marijuana in public view. Most people simply had a small amount buried in their pockets or belongings. Most of the arrests were made as a result of a police stop. Police officers either tricked people into taking out their marijuana, ordered them to do so, or illegally searched their pockets and belongings.
• The marijuana possession arrests do not reduce serious crime or violence, but they are very useful for significant groups within the police department. The arrests are relatively safe and easy, provide training for rookie police, and allow patrol and narcotics officers and their supervisors to meet arrest quotas and make overtime pay. They produce records of police activity and help supervisors keep track of what officers are doing. The arrests are also the most effective way for the NYPD to collect fingerprints, photographs and other information on young people not yet entered in the criminal databases.
New York City's racially-biased marijuana arrests are extreme, but they are
not unusual. Large cities and counties throughout the United States arrest
blacks and Latinos for marijuana possession at three, four, five, and up to
ten times or more the rate of whites. Los Angeles arrests blacks at seven
times the rate of whites, just as New York City does. Chicago does as well.
Along with DNA collection for misdemeanors and other policing policies, this
produces an institutional form of unjust discrimination that some have
termed "racism without racists." The law professor and scholar Michelle
Alexander has rightly described this as "the new Jim Crow."