On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the New York Police Department will no longer prosecute people for smoking marijuana in public.
The new policy will go into effect Wednesday, August 1st.
No further arrests will be made, unless the smoker is suspected of selling pot or poses a serious threat to public safety.
In a press release, Democrat Vance explained that it’s an issue of equality and fairness:
“Every day I ask our prosecutors to keep Manhattan safe and make our justice system more equal and fair. … The needless criminalization of weed smoking frustrates this core mission, so we are removing ourselves from the equation.”
According to the press release, the new approach is expected to — guess what? — reduce the number of marijuana-related prosecutions.
Yep — shocking. When you stop arresting people, it reduces the number of times you arrest people.
A reduction of about 96%, says the official statement.
Furthermore, the city intends to seal the convictions of those previously prosecuted for pot possession or public use.
To Vance, it’s a matter of being rational:
“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.”
In 2017, approximately 17,000 were arrested in New York for grass-related, low-level offenses. As per New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, around 86% of those were black or hispanic.
As stated in May, by Vance’s logic, pot legalization means greater racial equality.
“The dual mission of the Manhattan DA’s office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system. The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals.”
So he’s interested, specifically, in making sure black and brown people are arrested less. What about Asians?
So far in the U.S., nine states have legalized marijuana. Thirty allow it for medical purposes.
And to be clear, at least in California, a medical condition is “I don’t feel good.”
What do you think about all this? Is Vance racist? And do you feel better knowing people (including yourself) can (and will) be toking up in public now? Get ready to smell a whoooole lotta weed, Jack!
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