Marijuana laws across the country vary state to state. Although under federal law it is illegal for any person to manufacture, distribute, or possess cannabis for any purpose,
Twenty-one states and Washington D.C. have made the plant available to qualifying patients for medical purposes. Additionally, Colorado and Washington have made the drug legal for recreational use. It is essential for New York to adopt similar policies to Colorado in regard to marijuana in order to fix ambiguous and discretionary legislation, and to free the burden on enforcement. The drug should be taxed and regulated seed from sale, and be treated in a similar manner to alcohol in order to reallocate police resources ...view middle of the document...
The NYPD’s controversial “Stop And Frisk” tactic had permitted police officers to force people to empty their pockets, thus revealing any marijuana they may have in their possession. Once this occurs, the officer can write a citation for the individual having the drug in “public view,” which is a criminal offense. This manipulation of laws is not only damaging to individuals, but it also creates distrust between the police and the community. Recently the NYPD attempted to start a twitter campaign called #MyNYPD which encouraged citizens to post positive photos of themselves with the men in blue, however it was overwhelmingly flooded with photos of police brutality by the NYPD, most of which stemmed from stop-and-frisk practices.
In New York during the 1970’s, the Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted. Under these laws, an individual faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for possessing 4 ounces or selling 2 ounces of hard drugs, which included marijuana. These harsh penalties made New York’s drug laws the strictest of all the states. Enforcement increased, and as a result the percentage of drug offenders in New York State prison increased from 11% in 1973 to 35% in 1994 (Perlmutter, 1). The initiative failed to eliminate the drug market, and instead burdened the NYPD by increasing the extent to which they must enforce the sale and possession of marijuana.
It became obvious that the implementation of strict laws was not resulting in less incentive for drug dealers, and instead resulted in a stress on the enforcement and prison system. In 2004 Governor George Pataki signed into law the Drug Reform Act into law, which reduced the most severe mandatory minimum sentence from 15 years down to 8, and doubled the penalty for the most serious offenses, this was the first step towards reforming drug laws. In 2009, Governor Paterson signed into law new reforms, which further reduced sentences by eliminated mandatory sentences for many high level offenders and allowed lower level offenders to be eligible for treatment programs.
Although in recent years New York has become one of the more lax states in regards to Marijuana Policy on paper, actual enforcement varies drastically from the facade of leniency. “In 2010 the New York Police Department made 50,300 arrests for marijuana possession – more than for any other offense and one out of seven arrests in New York City…costing the tax payers between 500 million to one billion dollars” (Drug Policy Alliance). The NYPD has used loopholes in current policy in order to continue policing the market of marijuana. The revenue from arrests is a huge incentive for departments to keep patrols on marijuana patrol. According to NPR, New York City has made $101.3 million in property and asset forfeitures alone over the past ten years, not including fines and penalties. (Chappell)
Although the laws have become more lenient, the arrest rates have soared since the 1990’s. According to the State Justice...