The Number of Marijuana Arrests in New York City Remain Racially Disparate Under de Blasio

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December 3, 2016
Denver, CO

More than 80 percent of the people arrested for the possession of marijuana during the first eight months of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration were people of color, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

Credit: Photo Posted By Occupy Wall Street’s Twitter Account

During de Blasio’s run for mayor last year, he vowed to direct the NYPD to reduce the number of marijuana arrests citywide.

However, between the months of January and August 2013, there were 20,080 marijuana possession arrests; during the same period this year, there were 19,684 arrests, which accounts for a drop of about two percent, according to the data and a report provided by DPA.

The current mayor also took a firm stance concerning the treatment of first time offenders, saying that:

“First time offenses for possession of small amounts of marijuana are supposed to be punishable by fine only, unless publicly displayed.”

However, statistics show that under de Blasio, the NYPD still continues to arrest first time offenders rather than fining them. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, almost 75 percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession under de Blasio have been first time offenders.

Moreover, since de Blasio has been the mayor of New York City, 85 percent of the individuals arrested for marijuana possession were either black or Latino, and the number of black people arrested was more than four times higher than the number of white people arrested for the same charge.

Most shockingly, in all but two precincts this year (not including Central Park), the percentage of black people and Latinos arrested for marijuana possession is more than their percentage of the population, according to census data obtained from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

In the end, there is a blatant and obvious pattern that the percentage of arrests of black and Latino individuals is disproportionate. Furthermore, the reality is not that these populations use or possess marijuana more than their white counterparts. Use rates are similar across racial demographics. The reality is that these arrests are racially oriented and destroying countless lives.

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