Beginning on Wednesday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office will end prosecution for most marijuana smoking and possession cases.
“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,” D.A. Cy Vance said in a statement.
A study on the legalization of recreation marijuana found that minorities are arrested for marijuana offenses at much higher rates. The report said that large numbers of New Yorkers become further alienated from law enforcement and removed from community participation.
Vance said his office is stopping a system where smoking a joint can ruin your job, college application, or immigration status.
“I urge New York lawmakers to legalize and regulate marijuana once and for all,” he said.
Currently, there are about 5,000 marijuana prosecutions every year in Manhattan. Under the new policy, prosecutions are expected to drop by 96 percent to fewer than 200 per year.
The D.A.’s office could still prosecute cases against sellers or if the person caught with marijuana poses a significant threat to public safety.
Vance also announced plans to seal past marijuana convictions en masse in the Fall.
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