Following the November election in which two states (Colorado and Washington) made the recreational use of marijuana legal, activists in New York City are pushing legislators to decriminalize the use of marijuana. A study released last week showed that 90 percent of people who are arrested for marijuana possession don’t get arrested later for violent crimes.
The study also raised other points in favor of legalizing marijuana use – most arrests for marijuana use are racially biased or unconstitutional, and they are costly. It’s been estimated that marijuana arrests cost New York City about $75 million a year.
A bill decriminalizing the use of marijuana has been pushed by Governor Cuomo, and has the support of Mayor Bloomberg as well as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, as well as all of the city’s district attorneys. In fact, Police Commissioner Kelly ordered officers in 2011 not to arrest people carrying small amounts of marijuana, but over 50,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession anyway last year. Other activists are hoping to legalize medical marijuana in New York, which is currently legal in 17 states.
Despite the support from Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly, marijuana is still illegal in New York. As the number of arrests last year alone shows, tens of thousands of people carrying small amounts of marijuana are being arrested and labeled as criminals. Although many people don’t consider the possession of a small amount of marijuana to be a major crime, individuals caught with marijuana can face fines, probation, and possibly jail time.