by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced." — Albert Einstein
If Brooklyn’s new district attorney has his way, marijuana will effectively be decriminalized in the borough. In his inaugural address on Sunday, Ken Thompson vowed to end the prosecution of low-level marijuana arrests.
“I not only want to keep Brooklyn safe, I want to protect the future of our youth,” Thompson, who is the borough’s first black district attorney, said. “That means we must change the policy regarding those who are arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.”
“In 2012, over 12,000 people in Brooklyn were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly young, black men,” he said, referring to a 2013 report that found that in Brooklyn, black people are nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York is only a crime if it’s in public view. New York City averaged fewer than 2,000 marijuana arrests a year up until 1993. But under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, police would stop and frisk people on the street, bringing marijuana into “public view” and arresting them. By 2011, there were over 50,000 such arrests citywide, more than all the marijuana arrests from 1978 to 1996 combined.
“Every year, thousands of these cases are clogging our criminal justice system and require that we devote substantial resources in time and in money that we could use to put toward other initiatives to keep us safe,” Thompson said. “And so if these defendants are given criminal records instead of violations, it would make it harder for them in the future to live productive lives. We in Brooklyn can, and must, do better.”
During his run for district attorney, Thompson pledged not to prosecute people arrested for under 15 grams of pot, issuing a $100 fine instead. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is on board with Thompson’s plan.
“He can’t pass legislation to legalize marijuana but he can decide who will be prosecuted for it, and I think it’s an excellent way to use his office,” Adams said.
A decorated former state University at Albany campus police officer was spared prison time Monday for her role in the growing of more than 100 marijuana plants on her Duanesburg property.
Wendy Knoebel, 49, received five months of home confinement and three years probation at her sentencing before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin. She also must perform 50 hours of community service for her Dec. 9 guilty plea to conspiring to manufacture marijuana.
The judge dipped below a potential sentence that would have sent Knoebel to prison for one year and four months. If convicted at trial, she faced five years behind bars.
An NYPD commissioner, John Leach, supervises the destruction of liquor during the height of prohibition.
“The Police Department stopped and questioned more than 684,000 people last year. Close to 90 percent were black and Latino. Civil liberties groups have protested, but rarely do we hear from the men who are so frequently stopped. Filmmakers Lindsey Groot and Robin Antonisse provide us with four such stories in this exclusive video.”
- Powerful and important testimony from black men stopped-and-frisked in NYC.
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Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, is comforted after the Bronx teen was fatally shot by police.
An unarmed 18-year-old man was shot and killed by a police officer Thursday in the Bronx as the teen allegedly was trying to flush drugs down a toilet, the fourth time police have shot and killed a suspect in as many weeks.
Narcotics officers had arrested two other men whom they watched allegedly sell drugs just before 3 p.m. when they approached the teenager, Ramarley Graham. Mr. Graham ran into his nearby home at 749 E. 229th St., a law-enforcement official said.
Mr. Graham rushed into a second-floor bathroom, where he was trying to flush drugs, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Mr. Graham spun around when an officer confronted him, and the officer shot him once in his chest. It wasn’t clear what caused the officer to fire.
A law-enforcement official said Mr. Graham had eight prior arrests, including burglary, robbery, dealing marijuana and other offenses. The disposition of those cases wasn’t known.
The New York Police Department didn’t release the name of the officer involved. +
Low level marijuana arrests in New York City rose for the seventh straight year in 2011 to 50,680. The arrest total is the highest total on record since former pot smoker Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office and it is the second highest total of pot arrests ever recorded in the history of the city (just 587 arrests behind the record holding year 2000, when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani oversaw some 51,267 people arrested for marijuana violations).
Shockingly, the near-record high arrest total comes just months after New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called on officers to cease making marijuana misdemeanor arrests. Apparently, NYPD officers aren’t very good at listening to their commanding officer.
Of course, what is most troubling about these arrest figures is that under state law they largely shouldn’t be occurring at all. Since 1977, New York State law has categorized the possession of 25 grams of marijuana or less as a violation, not a misdemeanor crime. So then how are NYPD making so many misdemeanor pot arrests? By violating the spirit of the law, if not the law itself.
Rather than ticketing low level marijuana offenders, City police for over a decade have been taking advantage of a separate statute, NY State Penal Law 221.10, which makes it a criminal misdemeanor to possess pot if it is ‘open to public view.’ According to an investigation last year by New York City public radio station WNYC, it was determined that City cops routinely conduct warrantless ‘stop-and-frisk’ searches of civilians, find marijuana hidden on their persons, and then falsely charge them with possessing pot ‘open to public view.’
Commissioner Kelly’s 2011 memorandum explicitly directed officers to stop charging defendants with criminal misdemeanors in instances where the contraband ‘was disclosed to public view at an officer’s direction.’ Nevertheless, the record number of low level pot arrests appears to be continuing unabated. Most likely, it will take an act of law to stop this practice.
Fortunately, bipartisan legislation is pending in both the New York State Assembly and Senate to stop this disgusting, ongoing practice. Assembly Bill 7620 and Senate Bill 5187 reduce marijuana penalties involving cases where where marijuana was either consumed or allegedly possessed in public from a criminal misdemeanor to a non-criminal violation. Passage of SB 5187 and AB 7620 will save taxpayer dollars, protect New York City’s citizens against illegal searches, and reduce unwarranted racial disparities in arrests by clarifying the law and standardizing penalties for marijuana possession offenses.
If you reside in New York and want to end the City’s dubious distinction of being the ‘marijuana arrest capital of the world,’ then please contact your state elected officials today and urge them to support SB 5187 and AB 7620. You can do so via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
The pale five-story brick building, on a drab residential block, looks like many others in the Bronx. But every floor, the police said, was devoted to a single purpose: growing marijuana.
Investigators discovered 593 marijuana plants on Tuesday in a raid of the building, at 610 Morris Park Avenue, in the Van Nest neighborhood, the police said. Three men were arrested, they said, in connection with the so-called grow house.
The authorities found 75 pounds of marijuana that had been cut, dried and packaged in plastic. The total amount of marijuana recovered from the site was estimated at 1,550 pounds. The police figured that 50 to 60 pounds, with a value of approximately $250,000, were being produced each month. +
Here is a longer version of the viral video of the Utica police that was cut to a 1:40 long segment that made it appear as if the officer was planting evidence in the couple’s vehicle. See it for yourself.
Thank you to mentiel for the tip.