February 2, 2012

50,000 New Yorkers Arrested in 2011 For Pot Possession

Yes, you have read that statistic correctly.  The actual number of arrests for possessing under 25 grams of marijuana is 50,684 and it is up from the previous year by .6 percent. In fact, that number is more than all the arrests for marijuana possession the city made in the years between 1978 and 1996....combined.

The TIMES metro section reports on this suprising statistic today, revealing that these misdemeanor arrests cost the city an estimated $75 million dollars. In these tight budgetary times, there are certainly many useful things this money could be spent on.  It's very similar to the time/money the city wasted on harassing the Occupy protestors last year.  What is more alarming about these arrests is that the majority of them, 87% in fact, are for black or hispanics while studies consistently show that marijuana use/possession is much higher with whites.

I am usually not one to get rabble-roused but this situation truly bothers me because it's about more than drugs, it's about basic American rights (against illegal searches, for equal justice) that are being violated in New York every day for the so-called greater good. I can only hope this becomes an issue in the upcoming mayoral campaign as it's a discussion about safety vs. sanity that is long overdue in this city.

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