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New York Citys sees nearly 30 percent spike in pot arrests

A watchdog group in New York City, the Police Reform Organizing Project, reports that arrests by New York City Police Department officers for possessing marijuana are up 29 percent for the first half of 2016 when compared to the first half of 2015.

Arrests have spiked even though law enforcement officials in the city vowed to take another look at minor possession arrests. More than 90 percent of the total of arrests for possessing marijuana in the first 180 days of 2016 were non-white individuals. Even though New York City's population is made up of almost half white people, ten times more non-whites were arrested for possessing pot than whites.

Back in November 2014, William Bratton, the city's police commissioner, help up a small plastic baggie filled with pot. He said that anyone who had less than 25 grams of pot would only receive a ticket; he or she wouldn't be arrested.

At the time, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that "Black and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected. It can literally follow them the rest of their lives, and saddle young people with challenges that for many are very, very difficult to overcome."

While the number of marijuana arrests is still way below the arrest totals in late 2000s, the disparity in race in this year's arrests is disturbing. This is especially true when you consider that African-American and white people use marijuana at about the same rate.

When questioned about the report from the watchdog group, a spokesman for the police department replied in an email, which stated that the report "lack[s] any factual basis." The numbers for the report, however, are from the state's Division of Criminal Justice Statistics. Arrest numbers for that agency are received from state law enforcement agencies, and include the NYPD.

If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, an experienced attorney can help you fight the charges. There are many defense strategies that may be used to fight the charge, and your attorney can provide you with more information on the best approach to use.

Source: Fusion, "Marijuana arrests are on the rise in NYC—and 90% are people of color," Hal Bundrick, accessed Sep. 02, 2016

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